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08 Sep 2015

BY Edward Robertson

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TRFBLI

Ski operator slams government over term time holiday crackdown

A tour operator has slammed the government for its tightening up of the rules which has seen more parents fined for taking their children on holiday during term time.

Family holiday - ski (stock)

Speaking at a company update in London on Monday, Hotelplan UK chief executive Andy Perrin said government figures show 16,430 parents were prosecuted for breaking the rules in 2014, a 25% increase on 2013.

 

And with 74% of those taken to court found guilty and fined, he criticised the government for stigmatising parents keen to give their children overseas holidays at a lower cost.

 

Already he said Hotelplan’s own brands, which include Inghams and Esprit, are 90% sold for the first week of the Easter holidays, proving the popularity of school holiday breaks.

 

Perrin added: “There is growing evidence of families saying I’m not abiding by them (the rules).

 

“There is no politician who should legitimately be able to stand there and tell any parent that that child can’t go away because they can’t be in a classroom.

 

“The contrast of what they can experience in the mountains against what they can experience in the same classroom with the same teacher and the same children around them is simply not the same.

 

“It impinges on ski but… this is not just because we have a ski business, it is about what we’re doing for the nation’s children."

 

Perrin said that the operator’s brands had also seen a strong start for business for 2015/16 with both Inghams and Esprit bookings 5% up, Ski Total boosted by 2% while non traditional ski brand Santa’s Lapland had grown 70%.

 

He added much of the growth was currently being driven by the strong pound which can now buy 21 more cents per euro than 22 months ago, an 18% increase, while an additional 40 Canadian cents are available, a boost of 24%, over the same period.

 

“A strong pound is huge for all of us,” Perrin said.

 

He also said more people were moving back to use operators to arrange their ski holidays, as opposed to sorting it all out themselves, as they enjoy not having to do everything for themselves.

 

Overall he believes that providing there is early snow this season, the trade should see a total boost of between 2% and 3%.

 

This would outperform last season which he estimated saw trade grow by only 1% to 2% as poor early snowfall and bad traffic problems on both the Christmas and New Year weekends in France combined to make many people holiday elsewhere.

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