AS DAYS get longer and the sun gets stronger, it’s inevitable our thoughts should turn to holidays.
According to British tourist boards, the recession is making us think a holiday in Britain is better value than a holiday abroad.
This is drivel. A holiday in Britain has not been better value than a holiday abroad since they invented aeroplanes.
The only rational effect a recession has on our choice of a holiday destination is that we might look for somewhere cheaper.
This means travelling a shorter distance, or spending less time in our holiday destination. Or perhaps not having two holidays this year. Or perhaps not having a holiday at all this year, and having a slap-up one next year with this year’s savings and a strengthening pound.
The idea that we might kick Skiathos into touch for Skegness, or Morocco for Morecambe, is ridiculous. Why should people who are cash-strapped have a week in Bridlington for £600 when they can have a week in Benidorm for £300?
Benidorm not just half price, it’s sunnier and warmer and it’s moderately exotic: more exotic, that is, than Bridlington, which has never been called exotic by anyone, ever, and is sunny and warm only when there’s a Z in the month.
By what standard is a stay in a crumbling B and B in Sidmouth over a rainy Spring Bank Holiday preferable to a fat weekend in a self-catering villa in Ibiza?
The decision to take a British hol iday is nothing to do with price and nothing to do with good weather. It is to do with the fact that this brilliant island is full of the most fascinating places.
I can’t say for sure, but I’m thinking Britain is the only place where you can visit a baked bean* or lawnmower museum*, a triangular house* or a house that is just 3.05metres high by 1.8metres wide*.
I have absolutely no problem with British holidays, and have spent five decades traipsing into its furthest nooks and crannies.
But I have always gone armed with wellies and sou’westers, thick pullies and huge amounts of pounds sterling. I have been almost blown into the sea in Oban, washed out of a campsite in Betws-y-Coed, sand-blasted in Northumberland and snowed off Exmoor – and this in ‘summer’.
Yet I can thoroughly recommend an exploration of these miraculously diverse isles, and will do so until my last breath. The only thing is that you will need five lifetimes to uncover even half Britain’s treasures, and five lifetimes’ wages to pay for it.
There’s something half Basil Fawlty, half ostrich about the tourism industry, and it goes way back.
British holiday providers have traditionally been sniffy and arrogant about people who flew abroad. Chavs, the lot of ’em, they said. They’ll soon realise that guaranteed sunshine and cheap wine and cigs aren’t everything. Travel narrows the mind, they said.
Well they were, and we aren’t, and we didn’t and it didn’t, and we still go abroad in our millions, and we will continue to do so, and if this means that Cleethorpes and Hornsea have to shut up shop and take break from January 1 to December 31 each year, so be it.
* Baked bean museum, Port Talbot, South Wales; lawnmower museum, Southport Lancashire; Quay House, in Conwy, North Wales; Rushton Triangular Lodge, Kettering, Northamptonshire