Oh, what a bunch of optimists we parents are proving to be.
If current trends in family holiday bookings for this year are anything to go by, mums and dads are donning rose-tinted spectacles. What else explains the apparent belief that a round, yellow thing will appear above Britain this summer and shine down on our offspring? The rise in the number of Britons taking family holidays at home looks set to continue in 2010, despite the cold, wet winter.
Mandy Ley-Morgan, marketing director of Luxury Family Hotels, says: "The British are great at living in hope that the sunshine will come." Such optimism means that LFH has seen bookings for its UK hotels up 12 per cent on last year. The online booking portal, iknow-u.com, has also seen a sudden scramble for places in the British "sun". It reports a whopping 687 per cent rise in inquiries this month for holidays in Cornwall and the Lake District. "The recession is obviously not putting families off holidays, and it seems that the UK tourism industry is set to benefit in 2010," says Marcus Simmons, iknow-uk managing director.
We're also coming over warm and fuzzy about the thought of spending quality time with our relatives – grandparents, uncles and all. Companies from across the spectrum agree that holidaying with the extended family will be huge in 2010. Explore (explore.co.uk), which specialises in worldwide family adventures, has noticed a swing to "three-generation holidays", while Keycamp, which offers affordable camping and glamping across Europe, reports that families are bringing along the rellies, too. Travel industry body Abta confirms these findings, revealing that large family bookings (from groups of five to 10 people) accounted for 41 per cent of all passengers last year.
And a flurry of booking activity in the past few weeks reveals we're more eager to get that holiday scheduled than we were this time last year. Most tour operators report an increase in advance bookings, which have become all the more attractive because of deals offering discounts for transactions made in early 2010. George Koumi, director of long-haul tour operator Kenwood Travel, says: "Over the past few months, there has been a significant shift from last-minute late bookings to forward bookings in the family market. Many families are not only booking for summer holidays, but also their October half-term breaks, Christmas and even 2011 holidays."
It's all about saving money, and the thing that families love most right now is an all-inclusive deal. Abta says that all-inclusive holidays now represent 32 per cent of family bookings, compared with 26 per cent in 2008. Reef and Rainforest Tours, a specialist in small group holidays to exotic destinations, confirms this. "Families like to have tours with nearly everything all in, so that they know what the holiday is going to cost," says a spokesperson. Tui Travel, Europe's largest tour operator, also reports that its all-inclusive bookings are up 27 per cent on last year.
It seems we're suckers for added value, and are always up for extra treats at no extra cost, as Tim Wells from holiday cottage company Waterside Breaks points out. "We're finding that these days, families want a motor boat that comes with the cottage, or a hot tub, for example. And they're not interested unless properties have all the mod cons – dishwashers are an absolute must."
Wendy Shand, from child-friendly accommodation specialists Tots To Travel (totstotravel.co.uk) agrees. "Family properties are adding more luxurious fixtures to make self-catering more upmarket, while not necessarily more expensive."
And it's not just cottages, villas and apartments that are getting all glammed up for 2010. The rise of glamping is giving camping a whole new image and is set to continue as a real growth area for 2010. Most of the major holiday park operators are responding with posher abodes. Eurocamp, for example, is featuring new safari-style tents at 17 of its sites this year, and Canvas Holidays recently introduced fairytale cottages and treehouses to cater for families looking for more excitement.
As for the cool non-UK family destinations in 2010, Turkey and Egypt are continuing to prove popular with those seeking to avoid the eurozone. Family bookings to these countries have risen by as much as 21 per cent. Further afield, Virgin Holidays says that Orlando is proving more popular than ever, due to the impending opening of the new Harry Potter theme park, while Monarch says it has seen a 154 per cent growth in bookings to Florida.
But what about the silliest family holiday trend of all? Research from Best Western (bestwestern.com) has found that families with teenagers are allowing their offspring to choose their family holiday. Its figures show that 50 per cent of 14-year-olds decide which hotel their family will stay in, and 70 per cent choose the holiday activities. Now that is optimistic.Reuse content