Colleagues in South West England have asked me to make wider UK enquiries regarding any hard factual or anecdotal evidence on the negative, or indeed positive impacts if there are any, on tourism and the visitor economy resulting from the tightening of restrictions on in school term-time holiday taking in England, or the “Gove effect” as it is being called. Figures for South West England are said to indicate a potential 10% consequential reduction in family holiday taking (but over what period and how calculated, I not yet privy to).
My own “back of the fag packet” analysis suggests that clamping down on in term holiday taking is likely to affect longer breaks and genuine “holidays” far more than it is short and, especially, weekend breaks. South West England, which majors more on longer breaks and the family market is therefore bound to feel the impact relatively more than some other UK destinations with a different holiday pattern or a different core market profile. Similarly simplistic considerations also suggest that much the same will apply to the outbound holiday market, hence ABTA and other major commercial players interest in the subject of in term-time holiday restrictions, albeit perhaps for subtly different reasons and with far less subtly different implications for domestic v outbound tourism volumes and values. Although we may share common concern with the outbound operators I am personally still less than convinced that we are natural allies fighting for common cause on this issue.
My instinct tells me that if the SW of England is suffering then other destinations with a similar visitor profile in England and indeed elsewhere in the UK will be too, for example South West and West Wales? I also need to test and understand what the impacts are, if any, for a range of other destinations, of all different styles, types and core market profiles.
Instincts also suggests that the current Westminster Government may well believe that they have fixed the perceived problem of in-term holiday taking simply by abolishing Air Passenger Duty for under twelves from May 2015 and for under 16 year olds from 2016. There is no hard and fast evidence to support this view; it’s just a hunch based on my past experience, certain asides and other “ground signs”. Clearly ADP on children’s flights has little to do directly with the impact of in term-time restrictions on the domestic tourism market, but it may well have taken some of the wind out of large and influential travel operator lobby?
Please respond publically below or email me here with your comment and views, along with any anecdotal or factual evidence you may have.