It’s a tough decision – a family holiday at a peak season prices, or to take the kids out of school? As someone without children, I’d like to trust parents to decide with the best interests of their offspring’s education at heart, but at the same time, I’ve seen the hike in prices.
And it’s not for the ‘exploitativeness’ of the holiday providers rubbing their hands together with glee – we’re all tied with the mass exodus of families, throwing their school bags into the air for the end of term escape – impacting supply and demand.
More than half of parents in England have admitted to taking a child on holiday during term time – some seeking permission from the school (20%), some lying (12%) with common excuses being sickness, visiting sick relatives and family weddings.
In September 2013 the government introduced regulations to dissuade term-time ‘tans’, and, according to the BBC, the resulting number of parents receiving fines for taking their children out of school has increased by 74% since last year.
But a financial rap on the wallet is hardly a disincentive when the holiday itself is much cheaper on the whole.
Debates in parliament last month didn’t get very far in resolving the issue, with price caps on holidays during peak season, and a suggestion of suspending Airport Passenger Duty both rejected. Sparking controversy, a British ski holiday operator took advantage of the situation to offer to pay fines to incentivise taking children out of school. Yes, it’s brought the MountainBase brand name into the limelight (there’s nothing like a bit of free advertising), but it’s also emphasised frustrations on the tour operators side of the fence.
Last Week Tui Travel’s chief executive Peter Long stepped into the fray calling for counties schools to stagger breaks. ABTA also backs the idea of staggering school holiday dates allowing “more British families to take breaks in periods of lower demand”. Great if your children’s school chooses times which don’t overlap with everyone else’s, but will this really help spread the load or just extend peak season beyond the current six week slot?
Whilst we’ll have to wait and see whether the change in legislation is approved and any resulting shifts of term dates will ease the bottleneck for families, I’ll be taking advantage of the cheaper off-peak offers and quieter child-free beaches. Ciou! – I’ll send you a postcard.