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July 2017

Terror fears driving Italian students away from central London schools

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Fears over terrorism mean London is losing popularity among Italian students who are now choosing smaller cities and countryside destinations for ‘peace of mind’, travel agents say.

Italian agents’ association Ialca told the Gazette that some of its members had seen a 40 per cent drop in the number of enquiries for London this year. Italy is still the biggest market for UK language schools, according to English UK figures, and bookings are thought to have remained steady in recent months because of the weak pound following the Brexit vote.

But Ialca vice-president Davide Bresquar said that, while not many students had cancelled their bookings after recent terrorist attacks, many families have asked to cancel visits to London.

‘What was once the strongest positive point for a school – being located in central London – has now become almost a downside,’ explained Paolo Barillari, owner of Ialca member agency Lingue nel Mondo in Rome.

Mr Barillari said that some parts of London, such as the so-called ‘London villages’, are still very attractive. ‘We have a big group of sixteen-year-olds in Wimbledon right now,’ he explained. ‘Families appreciate the fact that students are within walking distance from the school and don’t have to use public transport.’

London news bubble

He added, ‘Students are still travelling to the UK – and those going outside of London are not worried at all.’

Chair of English UK London Mark Rendell said that, although many London schools are reporting good business, terrorist attacks have had a ‘significant recent impact’ on the number of bookings this year.

But he added, ‘For Londoners it is business as usual. We have great confidence in our security services, and the chances of being directly affected by a similar incident are actually incredibly low.’

James Herbertson, director of student accommodation agency London Nest, told the Gazette that, although agents have received a lot of worried calls, ‘most people are of the view that we should not let the acts of a few deter students from having the time of their lives’.

Emma Buckby, sales and marketing director at IH London, said booking figures did not generally show people had been put off coming to London.


 

Pic courtesy: Giulio Jiang

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