Social tourism could stimulate the rural economy


A copy of the charity’s submission can be downloaded here.

The Family Holiday Association has submitted evidence to the UK parliament’s Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (EFRA) Select Committee for their newly launched inquiry into the role of tourism in supporting rural growth in England.

The charity highlighted the recent Department for Work and Pensions’ Households below average income report that asked people with a low household income to indicate the most important activities their circumstances meant that they were forgoing. The top activity by a considerable margin was “a week’s holiday for themselves and their children”. The survey found that 35% of parents wanted to do this and yet could not afford to do so. In addition, the report found that 900,000 pensioners aged 65 and over were in material deprivation in 2014/15 and that 37% of all pensioners wanted to take week’s holiday a year but cannot afford to do so. Again, taking a week’s holiday was top of the list of activities that pensioners in low income households most wanted to do.

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Roundtable on social tourism – April 2016

Members of the social tourism round table – April 2016


The Family Holiday Association is just one of a wealth of organisations in Britain working in the field of social tourism, improving access to breaks for those who cannot normally afford them, for a multitude of reasons.

But uniquely, over the years the Family Holiday Association has acted as a champion of social tourism, supporting research, working with partners and trying to explain both the social and economic value of social tourism.

The charity supported the All Party Parliamentary Group’s Social Tourism report, Giving Britain a Break, that was put together back in 2011 under the auspices of the Chairman, Paul Maynard MP.

We believe it is time to do a further push on social tourism. This was the purpose of the April round table during which we heard from a number of different groups who since 2011 have come on board and done some amazing work.  You can read the report from the meeting in Westminster here.


Download the Social Tourism Round Table Report

Some of the key issues and actions that were raised are detailed below.

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Our charity partners in the north (of England)

160114RotherhamYesterday I caught the train from London to Rotherham to attend the Rotherham Holiday Aid (RHA) charity’s annual general meeting.

This charity began supporting local families much in the same way as the Family Holiday Association but for most of its history it has been working in a partnership with us in which they use our team to administer the holiday provision for Rotherham families.

We also have a long-standing agreement to match £1 for £1 their local fundraising with money from our funds thereby doubling the money available to provide breaks for struggling families in the town.

During 2015 almost 200 families were supported in Rotherham, over 700 children and parents. Most of the short breaks were in Family Holiday Association caravans at Butlins, Skegness.

Our relationship with like-minded partners is very important and I try to attend the RHA annual meeting in order to give a report on how our work has progressed over the past year and to meet with the RHA committee and their supporters.

Yesterday’s meeting was held in Rotherham Town Hall and was addressed by the current mayor Maggi Clark.  Cllr Clark knows of our work and how important it is but she was brought to tears by a short video of a special trip to Lapland and Father Christmas organized by Thomson Airways for a group of families last December. Continue reading

Thomson helps mark our 40th anniversary with a special gift to 40 families.

Our corporate partner of 25 years Thomson teamed up with the Family Holiday Association to help send 40 families to Lapland for a magical daytrip.

Watch the film Thomson made of this spectacular day

As you know we usually helps struggling families get away for a few days to the British seaside. But Thomson wanted to mark our 40th anniversary with an extra special gift which saw little ones and their parents whisked to a real winter wonderland at the northernmost point of Finland, where reindeers, huskies and elves roam the snow-dusted forests.

On Friday 4th December 150 children and parents spent the day hanging out with Rudolph, Santa and his trusty helpers. Plus, they were joined by special guest and Family Holiday Association ambassador, Alesha Dixon.

Here is Alesha Dixon introducing the video and wishing us all a merry Christmas and a happy New Year!!



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The number of children denied even a simple break has increased by a horrendous 25% to 5 million since 2005.

World Travel Market 2015, ExCeL, London – Holidays Matter Conference. John McDonald, Director Family Holiday Association
World Travel Market 2015, ExCeL, London – Holidays Matter Conference. John McDonald, Director Family Holiday Association

The Holidays Matter network held its annual conference at World Travel Market on Thursday 5 November 2015. My opening remarks cited some recent and eye-opening analysis of Office for National Statistics data by Professor David Gordon.

I would like to welcome you to the 4th annual Holidays Matter Conference here in the centre of one of the world’s largest travel trade exhibitions. An appropriate venue for an organisation that sees the travel industry at the very core of its work.

The Holiday Matters network currently consists of some 20 member organisations. Cumulatively these 20 organisations supported 150,000 people access a break last year with an estimated value of £5m. Although the Family Holiday Association has provided the initial support, we see the network and this conference as independent of the charity. It is a means of bringing like-minded organisations together to allow us share, to learn and to explore new avenues of working. That is the purpose of today. Continue reading

Reminiscences and recollections. Forty years on…

Celebration cakeSarah Robson’s house in a leafy north London street was yesterday’s venue for a gathering of current and past committee members of the charity’s North London Friends.  Sarah, the chair of our North London Friends committee, was keen to mark both the charity’s 40th anniversary and the committee’s significant contribution to its work over those four decades.

The charity was conceived in Hampstead Garden Suburb by Pat and Joan Laurance and their first fundraising efforts had depended on the work of local friends and neighbours. After the charity grew to become a national organisation supporting families throughout the UK, the Friends committee carried on raising money locally from street fairs and local raffles. Continue reading

Charity President Peter Long writes in the Huffington Post


“Family holidays are a priority, not a privilege” Peter Long, Charity President and CEO of TUI Group states in this latest article on the Huffington Post.

I have vivid memories of being a child at the seaside – a particularly prominent and treasured memory involves my whole family. We were on a beach building sandcastles, and my father was handing flags to me to put on the top of them.

I’m sure my own memories will bring many of your own to the surface – the taste of ice cream that trickled down your chin in the heat, the smell of salt on the air, the heat of the sand in contrast to the refreshing sea. For most of us, simple moments like these have created lasting memories.

…it’s often these struggling families that need a break the most

For so many of us coveting such memories, we may find it hard to confront the reality that they are born from a position of privilege. Living in the 21st century in one of the most ambitious and successful economies in the world, it is almost unfathomable to contemplate that at least 1.46 million families – that’s 4.74million people in the UK – can’t get a break away together, even for a simple day trip. Continue reading

Visit Kent partnership helps both families and local attractions


Watch this short video from Visit Kent to see how our partnership has benefited both local Kent families and attractions. 

I particularly like the comment from Therese Helsop of Canterbury Cathedral who says that by encouraging local people to visit turns Kent residents into ambassadors for local attractions.

This second year of the partnership saw nearly 1,000 local children and parents enjoying a day out that they otherwise would not have been able to afford.

I think this type of partnership has the potential to be replicated across the country.