Tui’s Chief Executive Peter Long calls for staggered school holidays – to cut prices?

Tui’s Chief Exec, Mr Long, has suggested that parents who send their children to private schools, which break up earlier than state schools, should pay more because “they can afford it.”  He has apparently discussed this with the Dept for Education, and wants different counties to stagger school breaks to “enable holiday costs at peak periods to come down.”  The higher costs in peak time are, or course, because the travel companies choose to put their charges up then – the whole holiday industry capitalises on the higher demand.  Mr Long said the price difference between a holiday booked at the beginning of July (some private schools break up in early July) and one for the start of August was 20%. The industry wants a widening of the main holiday periods so that, in fact, they can charge more for holidays for more weeks, by spreading the demand. He seems to be a bit confused between private school parents, and staggering term dates between regions. Parents who scrimp and save and go without many consumer delights in order to pay for private school fees, are incensed by Mr Long’s proposals and lack of understanding. 
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Tui’s Chief Executive Peter Long calls for staggered school holidays 

By Phil Davies (Travel Weekly)
24 March 2014

Parents who send their children to private schools, which break up earlier than state schools, should pay more because “they can afford it,” according to Tui Travel chief executive Peter Long.

Long told the Financial Times he had discussed the issue with the education department and proposed that counties stagger school breaks to enable holiday costs at peak periods to come down.

He said the price difference between a holiday booked at the beginning of July and one for the start of August was 20%.

“There is an irony in that for the 93% of children in state schools, the holiday starts at the end of July. For the 7% of children that go to private schools, the holiday starts at the beginning of July,” Long said.

“Those that can afford to pay more for their holiday don’t have to pay more for their holiday because they can go in the first two weeks of July.”

If school breaks were staggered, those families who benefit from being able to go away in the first two weeks of July would see their prices go up, he added.

“They might moan but, arguably you could say they can afford it,” said Long.

The Tui chief said he raised the issue with the education department because he is president of the Family Holiday Association, which provides holidays for impoverished families.

Education secretary Michael Gove last month accused travel companies of attempting “to fleece parents” by ramping up holiday prices at certain times of the year.

But seeking “to dispel some of the myths”, Long said Tui Travel does not “suddenly put all the prices up” when schools break up.

“It’s because our costs go up as well, because we’re having to pay more for our hotel rooms in periods of high demand, which is economics,” he said.

Asked about the cost of a two-week all-inclusive holiday in high summer, Long said: “It’s great value and it’s not expensive. But it’s more expensive than a holiday in a period of lower demand.”

Mr Gove is proposing legislation to allow all schools to change term dates.

But Long said the best approach was to replicate the German model and stagger school breaks by county to “flatten the peak”.

The impact on Tui Travel would be neutral, he added.

“It’s effectively saying we’ll get a higher price at the beginning of July and therefore we can have a lower price in August,” said Long.

http://www.travelweekly.co.uk/Articles/2014/03/24/47363/tuis+long+calls+for+staggered+school+holidays.html

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Below are some of the comments below the article:

    • Wouldn’t staggering the school holidays just allow the tour ops to charge peak prices for an extra few weeks? I can’t see prices coming down in August just cos they sold a few more holidays in June as a result of staggering dates can you.

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  • Mr Long, how on earth can you assume that parents who send their children to private school can afford to pay more? Many parents, like myself, scrimp and save to send their child to a private school and this often means going without a holiday at all. To state that we can afford to pay more is just WRONG. It might be an idea to get your facts right before making such inflammatory comments in future.

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    The problem is supply and demand. Most of Europe is off in August. I believe that schools could shorten the 6 weeks in summer to 4 weeks and then give each child two floating weeks that they could take over a twelve month period. Then if the child comes from a split family they could take a week with each parent during the year or the family could go away together for the whole two weeks, with a proviso that the child’s attendance is at an acceptable level.

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    I like the idea of staggering school holidays but I think that the impact on demand and pricing for regional departures should be considered. It could lead to regional departures being in high demand while the children in that area are off school which would then be reflected in the pricing. For it to work neighbouring regions would have to have very different dates eg. Greater manchester, Lancashire, Merseyside and west and south Yorkshire could all have very different school holiday dates in order to spread demand for Manchester flights. I’m not sure how it would effect smaller airports such as Doncaster, leeds and Liverpool.

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  • I can’t believe the two negative comments both mention ‘forgo-ing’ holidays, yet in the same rant condemn Mr Long’s comments who suggests ‘arguably can afford it’.
    Obviously not every parent will be able to afford it, the same as not every state schooled parent would be able to afford an off-peak holiday. But I would think that the vast majority of private schooled parents ‘could’ afford the additional costs. I ‘applaud’ you for forgo-ing holidays for the sake of your childrens educations.

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  • Why does Mr Long and TUI say this is a class issue,Private Schools Vs State, assuming people who can afford private schools have more money than those who send their kids to a state school. I work in the travel industry which is not the best paid, but i forgo Holidays, newish cars, and rent a house, because i have chosen to educate my child privately. It sounds as though Long and TUI have a strange way of addressing their critics.

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    Earlier:

    Government response rejects petition asking for no APD during school summer holidays

    18.2.2014

    A petition to the Treasury has been created, asking that the government suspend or reduce Air Passenger Duty  (APD)during the school summer holidays. The petition says British families need quality time together at a time they legally can (parents are not meant to take children out of school in term time).  Quite why the families have to get on a plane in order to have quality time together is not explained.  As the number signing is now around 38,000 there has been a response from the government. They say “APD exists to provide revenues for the public services. Revenue from APD plays an important part in supporting this Government’s stabilisation of the UK’s public finances.” They add that APD is charged by the airlines, and they have the option of not  passing the cost on to the passengers. They also say that APD for the majority of flights, which are to Europe, is only £13 for a return trip. “The duty makes up a relatively small proportion of the total ticket cost. For example, it is less than 9% of the cost of an early booking for return flights for a family of four to Málaga in July 2014. Other charges imposed by airlines, such as fuel or luggage surcharges, can make up a much higher proportion of the total ticket price.” The industry ramps up the price of flights and holidays during July and August, by far more than the price of APD.  For instance, holiday price £2,015.59 in August and £1,214 for the same trip in late September.http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/?p=19977
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