Government should spread school holiday dates out by region to bring travel costs down in peak period, say tour operators

 

Education Editor

The Government should vary school summer holiday dates region by region so families can avoid paying peak prices for their breaks, tour operators said yesterday.

The Association of Independent Tour Operators, which represents about 120 travel companies, said the holiday season should be spread over a longer period of time - such as from June to September.

A longer holiday period would avoid tour operators having to make their profits from just a six-week window at the height of summer, they argued.

Initial reaction from the Department for Education said it was already possible to do this, as its flagship free schools and academies already had the freedom to set their own holiday dates.

However, spreading the holidays out over a three-month period could run into trouble with exam boards, as GCSEs and A-levels do not finish until well into June.

AITO said that if the Government were to vary the holiday break from region to region it “would allow holiday companies to reduce peak season prices”.

“It would also offer huge economic benefits to some of the key holiday destinations (many of which are suffering huge unemployment and other financial problems) by lengthening their seasons,” said Derek Moore, chairman of AITO.

“So it seems fairly straightforward, Mr Cameron, please settle it once and for all. Holiday dates spread over a longer period work well elsewhere in Europe. Instigate a similar system in the UK and parents - and holiday companies - will be happy.”

AITO came out strongly against the idea of capping the price of holidays during the school holidays, arguing that would just make the price of holidays year-round more expensive.

“A hotel, villa, apartment or campsite has six weeks only in the summer in which largely to cover its costs for the year - and that might equate to just three family holidays lasting two weeks each,” it added.

It said it was a simple matter of supply and demand which also applied to roses on St Valentine’s Day, British asparagus during its short season and strawberries during Wimbledon.

AITO backed the idea of parents being allowed to take their children out of school during term time to avoid paying peak fares, arguing this was already possible if the pupil’s headteacher agreed.

In fact, the law has been tightened and there is no longer a window which used to allow parents to take children out of school for up to 10 days a year with the head’s person. Now leave is only granted in exceptional circumstances.

AITO’s comments as it emerged that a petition calling for an to overcharging by travel companies could get an airing in the House of Commons.

The online petition created just over 10 months ago has already had more than 136,000 signatures from parents angry about price hikes for going away during the summer holidays.

Government e-petitions need 100,000 signatures before they will be considered for a debate in the Commons by a committee of backbench MPs.

Earlier this month a couple, Stewart and Natasha Sutherland, were fined almost £1,000 for taking their three children out on school on a holiday to Greece in term time. They argued they had booked their holiday before the change in the law.

A spokeswoman for the Department for Education said: “We are giving all schools the freedom to set their own term dates.  Academies and free schools already have this freedom.

“For instance, David Young Community Academy in Leeds operates a seven-term year starting in June. This means parents and teachers can benefit from cheaper holidays at the end of September.

“We want schools to consider changes to term dates that will work out for their pupils and their families.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

Recruitment Genius: Nursery Nurse and Room Leader - Hackney

£15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a qualified childcare p...

QAA: Independent member of the QAA Board of Directors

Expenses paid in connection with duties: QAA: QAA is inviting applications to ...

AER Teachers: PPA TEACHER/MENTOR

£27000 - £37000 per annum: AER Teachers: THE SCHOOL: This is a large and vibra...

AER Teachers: EYFS Teacher

£27000 - £37000 per annum: AER Teachers: EYFS TEACHERAn 'Outstanding' Primary ...

Day In a Page

The long walk west: they fled war in Syria, only to get held up in Hungary – now hundreds of refugees have set off on foot for Austria

They fled war in Syria...

...only to get stuck and sidetracked in Hungary
From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series

Title sequences: From The Prisoner to Mad Men

Elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series. But why does the art form have such a chequered history?
Giorgio Armani Beauty's fabric-inspired foundations: Get back to basics this autumn

Giorgio Armani Beauty's foundations

Sumptuous fabrics meet luscious cosmetics for this elegant look
From stowaways to Operation Stack: Life in a transcontinental lorry cab

Life from the inside of a trucker's cab

From stowaways to Operation Stack, it's a challenging time to be a trucker heading to and from the Continent
Kelis interview: The songwriter and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell and crying over potatoes

Kelis interview

The singer and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell
Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea