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Thursday 10 July 2014

School's (nearly) out for summer!

Senior tourism lecturer Nicola Adams explains how family tourism has become a niche tourism industry. Should families expect more from the industry?

With the school holidays rapidly approaching, the tourism industry is in full swing. Children are counting down the days until they break up for the summer. Energy and excitement levels are high. But it’s interesting that although families travelling with children are one of the largest markets in tourism, we don’t really know much about them!

My family on holiday.

For starters what does ‘family’ actually mean? Were your family holidays made up of a traditional family unit of 2 adults + 2± children, or were there multiple family interchanges including grandparents, cousins and family friends? Maybe just one parent took you on holiday. Also, do you think families behave differently when on holiday and does this fluctuate depending on whether it’s a domestic or international holiday?

Family tourism has become a significant niche tourism market but who is it that decideswhere to go, when to go, what to do, how to do it and who to do it with?

As a child, how far were you and your siblings involved in the decision making of your family holidays? Has your family dynamics heightened or detracted from your individual holiday experiences? Do our memories of our childhood family holidays influence our family holiday taking in adulthood?

Holidays, as we know, are the times in the year when we can relax and escape from our every day stresses, rekindle our relationships with loved ones and spend quality family time together, aren’t they? Family holidays are also very likely to have their fair share of stress and conflicts.


Remember those moments from your ‘happy family holidays’? As a wife and mother of three, I’ve certainly had a thorough mix of negative experiences dealing with the usual niggles; arguments, fights and sulking!

But of course I also have a rich bank of very positive happy memories; shared activities, relaxing together, playing games which have been very much facilitated by the innovative, multifaceted tourism industry.

But, should families expect more from the tourism industry? I think this needs to be explored as I think my family holidays are going to get harder before they get easier, as the differences in my children’s needs and wants get wider as they grow up and mature over the next few years. Family holidays, relaxing, really?