5th March 2014 THE SOARING COST OF SUMMER HOLIDAYS: SUN, SEA AND SALMONELLA

We all look forward to a summer holiday abroad. Jetting off to sunnier climes with family and friends, it's often the only time of the year we can enjoy some guilt-free relaxation.

However, a summer holiday abroad is becoming an unachievable dream for some families. It is a long-known phenomenon that holiday companies ramp up their prices during school holidays. Leading travel writer Simon Calder suggests holidays during the designated term breaks can cost up to 50-400% higher.

But families with children of school age have little choice. At present, a head teacher may only permit taking a child out of school where there are "exceptional circumstances". A holiday will rarely be considered as such. Parents face a fine of £60 per child for each unauthorised absence.

Devon-based father Paul Cookson's Facebook post on the subject was shared more than 140,000 times, encouraging mum-of-two Donna Thresher to set up an e-petition calling on the Government to "enforce action that caps the percentage increase on holiday prices in school holidays". At the time of writing the petition has more than 170,000 signatures - see the petition here.

The support shown on the e-petition leaves no doubt that this is an important issue for today's UK families. But is anybody listening? And more importantly, are things going to change? Sadly, it seems they are not. This week MPs have been debating the topic in Parliament following a request by Liberal Democrat MP John Hemming upon the e-petition reaching a designated 140,000 signatures.

Possible remedies to the problem include giving teachers more discretion on term-time absences, placing price-capping restrictions on holiday companies, and reducing airport passenger duty during summer holidays. Another popular suggestion is to "stagger" school term dates in different areas around the country, an idea promoted by the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA), who suggest it could help alleviate the pressure of peak holiday demand. In fact, 85% of ABTA's members support proposals for such a model, which is already implemented in some European countries.

However the Department for Business, Skills and Innovation responded to the e-petition by stating it is for businesses to decide the market worth of their products. During the debate, no MP backed price regulation and the Government also rejected the idea - see the debate here.

It seems that families will continue to face soaring prices for their summer holidays. Many families also choose to book their holiday with one of the big UK tour operators trusting that in return for the higher price paid, the all-inclusive package provided will deliver outstanding quality. So what can you do if your perfect package holiday is ruined by food poisoning from your hotel? The effects of food poisoning can be serious and could continue to affect your daily life on return to the UK.

Your tour operator could be held responsible for the illness you have suffered. Contact us here at Woodward's Solicitors for advice on whether compensation is recoverable for your illness, as well as loss of enjoyment and other expenses incurred such as prescription costs and loss of earnings.

Author profile:

Gemma Stanley, LL.B (Hons)

Paralegal, Industrial Disease Department

Gemma joined Woodward Solicitors in July 2013 and has enjoyed working mainly on holiday illness claims


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