MoreSpecial Report: Brexit uncertainties prompt long-haul sales

Almost a third of agents say term-time holiday fines are impacting sales of family holidays.

Nearly 60% cited rising prices, 31% said term-time fines and half reported Brexit as having an effect on family holiday sales in January.

The findings come from a poll of 337 agents carried out exclusively for Travel Weekly by supplier marketing organisation Tipto and follow official data from analyst GfK showing that family bookings for summer 2019 were outperforming the wider market.

School absence figures for England will be released in March, but the latest data, for spring 2018, shows 8.6% were unauthorised family holidays and 1.6% were agreed holidays. In Northern Ireland, one in 10 primary school absences in 2017‑18 were for unauthorised term-time holidays.

Parents should get permission from headteachers to take their child out of school for a holiday in “exceptional circumstances”.

Fines of £60 per child can be issued for unauthorised absences, rising to £120 if not paid in 21 days.

Last month, Lancashire County Council denied media reports claiming it planned to raise fines to £1,000 per parent per child.

Despite the Tipto findings, some parents are still willing to risk fines due to differences in prices.

Paul Waters, director at Premier Travel, said families still wanted to travel in the holidays for most of their trip but some were willing to include one or two school days.

A Kayak poll in January suggested 41% of parents were happy to take children out of school due to “skyrocketing” prices. It found 69% of those who had done so had told the school and were not fined.

More positively, Hays Travel said some schools had changed holiday dates, enabling customers to travel out of mainstream school holidays without incurring fines.

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