'Fewer parents booking in term time'
FINES for parents have discouraged them from taking their children on holiday in term time, according to a local travel agent.
Janine Wilbourne, owner of independent agent Waltham Travel, said that since fines for unauthorised absences were introduced, fewer parents are booking family holidays in term time.
The observation comes as the Grimsby Telegraph reveals today that 359 parents were fined by North East Lincolnshire Council (NELC) for unauthorised absences last academic year.
Mrs Wilbourne, pictured, said that the impact is that they book fewer two-week holidays, with families going away for seven or ten nights due to massive premiums as soon as the holidays start.
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"Tour operators will always try to recoup the losses they make in the winter months by charging more in the summer – that is unlikely to change, she said.
"There is a massive difference in prices, which is why some parents still take their kids away in term time but since fines were introduced, there has been a noticeable difference."
However, Mrs Wilbourne said that some parents are still willing to take their children out of school to save money – offset against a £50 bill from the local authority.
She added: "It tends to be families with younger children, nine or under usually, because older children often have exams in the summer.
"Either that or they will start a day or two before the end of term to save some money.
"Schools seem to be really cracking down and as a parent myself, I know that they take a really dim view of it."
However, things are looking a little brighter for the tourism industry as Mrs Wilbourne has seen a rise in the number of bookings in 2012 – and has high hopes for 2013.
She added: "There seems to be a lot more interest and December this year was a lot better than in 2011.
"January was our busiest month last year and given the number of people we have already spoken to and price quotes we have given, I think this January will be even better.
"The most popular destinations for families are probably Spain and Turkey.
"Spain is all about families. It's cheap, and people feel safe as it is in Europe, yet you can guarantee the weather.
"Turkey is also hot and is amazing value for money, even when you go self catering – but we have seen a rise in all-inclusive holidays as people know that the price is guaranteed and they don't have to spend when they get there.
"Long-haul, Florida is the most popular as there is so much to do and there have been some great offers to entice people, like free dining for kids in Disney parks which keeps the cost down."