30 Apr 2013

Scottish National Party MSP for Glasgow Shettleston, John Mason, tonight led a Scottish parliamentary debate on social tourism.

The East End MSP used the debate to highlight the little known concept and draw attention, in particular, to the excellent work done by the Family Holiday Association.

The Family Holiday Association is a leading charity that helps disadvantaged families access breaks away from home. They help over 2,000 families, some 9,000 individuals, from Scotland and the rest of the UK, enjoy some quality time together every year. The charity believes that families that holiday together are happier and healthier, making for a stronger society.

Speaking from Parliament after the debate, the SNP’s John Mason MSP said:

“I suppose the first question we would expect when raising holidays for those on low income is: ‘surely a holiday is a luxury and people on low incomes have no right to that.’  I would very much want to challenge this assertion and tonight’s debate was a good opportunity to do that.

“Given that stress affects us across the income spectrum and is actually a key factor in health in poorer areas, I believe that holidays and leisure activities are also necessary across the income spectrum and they are not a luxury available only to those on good incomes.  And these are points supported by research.  Nottingham University research shows that 77% of families were happier after a holiday, 70% were more optimistic and 74% had a more positive outlook on life.

“The Scottish Government is particularly keen to put an emphasis on preventative spending and I think it’s quite clear from the academic research that the benefits of short breaks can be very worthwhile, even from a health point of view.  Turning to the economics, Spain’s IMSERSO scheme allows a number of pensioners to get away to the coast which, of course, extends the holiday season, boosts the local economy and provides more employment opportunities.  A Price Waterhouse Coopers report found that for every €1 invested in the programme, an additional €1.5 was generated in tax revenue, so the financial aspect of social tourism is also interesting”.

John McDonald, Director of the Family Holiday Association, commented:

“Too many families are missing out on the benefits that quality time together can provide. 

“While many take a holiday for granted, literally millions of families miss out each year.  So the Family Holiday Association fully supports John Mason’s attempt to push this up the political agenda.  As a charity, we are also calling for greater recognition of the advantages of more families getting a break and exploring how tourism and welfare sectors can work together to  not only deliver real benefits for troubled families but provide a boost to the Scottish tourism economy too.”

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