Last week I said I’d come up with some ideas to restart the tourist industry. There are two sides to this, businesses here on the island and businesses that bring people to the island. Firstly my attitude towards politicians and what they say has changed over the years. Particularly in the UK where they seem to change their mind like the weather. One in particular who really gets on my nerves is Michael Gove. He’s the man who played a heavy part in the leave campaign in 2016 with Boris Johnson and together they were going to make a bid for Johnson to become Conservative party leader, with Gove as the campaign manager, how could they fail? Well Gove withdrew his support on the morning Johnson was due to declare, and announced his own candidacy! Which he lost to the eventual winner Theresa May. Fast forward to October the 18th this year and Mr Gove was asked if ministers were going to enforce a two-week shutdown across England? The Cabinet Office minister answered: “No”. He added that the spread of the virus did not warrant short-term blanket restrictions “at the moment”.“It would seem an error to try to impose on every part of the country the same level of restriction when we know that the disease is spreading more intensively and quicker in some parts of the country,” he said.Just two weeks later and the country goes into full lockdown for a whole month!
What has this got to do with restarting the tourist industry? I can hear you saying. Well please bear with me as I just had to paint a little bit of a Michael Gove picture. In 2012 he changed the law on parents being allowed to take their children out of school in term time. It was a very controversial law at the time as it took away the flexibility that schools and parents had before. He said It is “wrong” for parents to take children out of school during term time to take advantage of cheaper holidays and there was a call for action to stop holiday companies “cashing in” by ramping up prices during the school holidays. He also said that the holiday industry should “look at itself in the mirror” and ask whether it was doing enough to help its customers. All this did was push the prices up even higher and who was he to say whether a parent could take their kids out of school in term time? In my opinion It should agreed by the teacher and the parents and based on their child’s attendance record and their school work. He added that parents should instead lobby their schools to change their term dates to allow pupils to go on holiday at different times, as the coalition Government had given them the ability to do. Which of course was totally impractical and so never got changed. If there was one thing that rang alarm bells here for me apart from the name Gove it was the word “coalition”. Coalition Governments in my mind are a waste of time, we have one here in Spain who are proving that. All that happens is you’re trying to pass legislation that one agrees with and the other doesn’t. If you remember at the time this was a Conservative/Lib Dem coalition and as always it was a complete shambles. In the 2010 general election, the Lib Dems had built their campaign around a pledge to abolish tuition fees. By the end of that year, however, they had tripled them instead. So much for looking after children’s education. The term time law came into force and the current situation for taking children on holiday in term time is as follows;You have to get permission from the head teacher if you want to take your child out of school during term time.You can only do this if:
- you make an application to the head teacher in advance (as a parent the child normally lives with)
- there are exceptional circumstances
It’s up to the head teacher how many days your child can be away from school if leave is granted.You can be fined for taking your child on holiday during term time without the school’s permission.When I first came to Mallorca in 1990 families used to come from May until October and there were still families coming through the winter too. That all changed after 2012 and if I’m honest not for the better. It means that families have to pay a lot more for a holiday in July and August than they would at any other time of the year. You can’t blame the Holiday industry as they have no choice but to charge what they do. Never has the saying “make hay when the sun shines” been more apt. The pandemic has changed a lot of people’s outlook on life and I believe this should be the time to reverse this law. There are many angles to this and I personally can’t see a negative. Most kids in the UK were off school because of the pandemic for nearly six months. Now the main reason for this was health but the statistics didn’t back up the reason. The infection rate and more important the mortality rate amongst children was very low and the risk minimal. But in the Government’s eyes it was ok to keep them away from school for that period of time. So if that is the case are we still saying that a 10 day holiday in term time is harmful to their education? A break particularly abroad offers a new culture, cuisine, language and the chance for families to bond away from their daily routines. I for one see it as an enhancement to their education. The other side to this, is a boost to industries that have suffered hugely in this pandemic. The holiday industry has been dented enormously with Airports, ports, Airlines, Tour Operators, cruise lines, car hire and all the third party industries connected to them struggling to survive. I’m sure all of these would rather see a greater spread particularly in family travel across the year rather than just crammed into July and August. There is no doubt that staycation UK holiday firms would benefit from this too. You try getting a cheap deal at a holiday camp or one of those forest camps when the kids are off school. This would be a massive boost to the economy in jobs, money to the exchequer and to be honest a Feelgood feeling all round, when the country needs it most. In fact I’m surprised nobody else has thought of it. Please pass it on if you have any Government connections. Holiday destinations like Mallorca would have to play their part too and as I’ve ranted too much about Mr Gove, I will bring that to you next week. Take care everyone and enjoy your weekend! Richie presents the Radio One Mallorca Breakfast show Monday to Friday07.30-11.00am on 93.8fm in Mallorca and 102fm in Calvià, online at www.radioonemallorca.com on mobile through their free App for IPhone & Android, The Tunein Radio App, iTunes, the Spanish TDT TV service and all smart speakers. If you can’t hear him on the radio then you’ll find him working at Pirates Adventure the islands number one night out and every now and again he may make an understudy appearance! Follow him on Twitter @DadTaxi1 & Instagram @dad.taxi or feel free to email him at firstname.lastname@example.org