The Association of Independent Tour Operators (AITO) says that the longstanding question on the price of holidays during school holiday dates could be resolved by Government action to spread summer holiday dates over a longer period of time.

Key questions raised have included whether parents should be allowed to take children out of school in term time to avoid paying peak season prices.

AITO believes that they should and highlights the fact that in exceptional circumstances, and with permission from the head teacher, parents are allowed to do this. Examples might include instances where the family has experienced a tough time due to marital problems, illness or bereavement, for example. Other questions raised in the debate have included why prices remain high in peak season.

AITO reports this is due to supply and demand like roses on St Valentine’s Day and strawberries during Wimbledon. It says that a hotel, villa, apartment or campsite has six weeks only in the summer in which largely to cover its costs for the year – and that might equate to just three family holidays lasting two weeks each.

The association also believes that prices should not be capped in school holidays as this ignores the core problem and will simply make holidays year-round more expensive, benefiting few people. Instead, it says that the answer is to spread the peak school holiday period over a longer time-span, ideally from mid-June to mid September.

The association's chairman, Derek Moore, said: "The peak summer holiday dates cover, in the main, just a six-week period. AITO urges the Government to vary holiday dates from region to region in the UK and to stretch the peak season from six to 12 weeks, i.e. from mid-June to mid-September. This would allow holiday companies to reduce peak season prices. It would also offer huge economic benefits to some of the key holiday destinations (many of which are suffering huge unemployment and other financial problems) by lengthening their seasons.”

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