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Scott Begbie: Time to stop travel firms ripping off families with eye-watering school holiday price hikes

The great school holiday prices rip-off is an act of daylight robbery on families by holiday companies.
The great school holiday prices rip-off is an act of daylight robbery on families by holiday companies.

One of the benefits of becoming mature (yeah, I mean old) is that I no longer have to worry myself about taking breaks in the school holidays.

I still feel for you parents who need to do the fan dance with the holiday rota at work to get the dates you need, then go off in search of a bit of R&R that you and the urchins will enjoy.

And I feel that particularly keenly after going in hunt of a jaunt in the sun for myself and Mrs B.

Predicated on the hope the pandemic will be little more than an unfond memory in the coming months, we decided to risk it for a biscuit and see what we could score in Gran Canaria. This is where my blind spot on school holidays came into play.

You see, we had a lovely week on this jewel of the Med for our last sunshine break – which was actually the last time you could leave the country without fear of not getting back in or running the risk of being a modern day Typhoid Mary. A Covid Colin, as it were.

School holidays seem to double the cost of travel

Anyway, as we started to peruse the various options, one thing jumped out at us. Jings, the prices had fair gone up. We were looking for a quick and not-too-expensive bit of chill time, but here we were being hit up for the sort of prices that you’d expect on long-haul to uber-exotic climes.

As we pondered what was going on, the penny dropped. We came off the holiday websites and headed for the council one to check when the school terms were.

There are plenty more available sun loungers during term time than outside of it (Photo: Subbotina Anna/Shutterstock)

Right enough, we’d been trying to book during the weeks of the Easter holidays for Scottish schools. A quick adjustment on departure dates and the prices plummeted faster than a Gran Canarian beach attendant swooping on anyone so much as looking at a sun lounger.

Wouldn’t it be nice if, in the year we all hope to be able to get back out into the world, the holiday companies welcome everyone with open arms and fair prices – families included?

Literally, the cost per person came down by hundreds of pounds. In one case for one hotel, it was actually twice as much to go during the school holidays as the week after. And we aren’t talking small change.

Now, for us in Begbie Towers, that’s just a matter of popping things back a week or two. But parents can’t. They are rigidly locked into term times, with nothing they can do except cough up, unless they fancy a borrow of Aunty Muriel’s static caravan in Forfar for a week.

We need a holiday cost regulator

What holiday companies are doing is the very definition of daylight robbery. And don’t give me that mince about supply and demand. It is just an out-and-out rip-off of parents who have no choice – and many are struggling as it is.

That will only get worse this year, what with the soaring prices being inflicted on us from energy to food and more beyond.

Steep holiday prices could ground lots of families this year (Photo: VanderWolf Images/Shutterstock)

Wouldn’t it be nice if, in the year we all hope to be able to get back out into the world, the holiday companies welcome everyone with open arms and fair prices – families included?

And, if they won’t, shouldn’t there be a regulator somewhere telling them to? Then making them, if they still think fleecing customers is acceptable?


Scott Begbie is entertainment editor for The Press & Journal and Evening Express

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