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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Un record de non-départs en vacances cet été

by Lucas Piessat

Record number of people foregoing holidays this summer

Translated Monday 4 June 2012, by Helen Robertshaw and reviewed by Derek Hanson

In Europe, holidays are a luxury. According to an Ipsos survey for Europ Assistance, almost two in five Europeans will be deprived of holidays this summer. The economic crisis is of course to blame.

If you are among the 58% of Europeans who are going away for more than four days this summer, you will not be bothered by fellow holidaymakers. This is because only 17% of Europeans say that they will go away a few times this summer (-8% compared to 2001). The 12th holiday survey carried out by Ipsos for Europ Assistance reports the lowest level of holiday getaway plans since 2006. Published on Thursday May 24, this survey, which was carried out on 3,523 people in Germany, England, Austria, Belgium, Spain, France and Italy, reveals the impact of the economic crisis on the holiday plans of Europeans.

"It’s anything but a surprise, it’s even the confirmation of what we’re seeing in France, as well as our partners across Europe", admitted Julien Laurprêtre, president of the French charity Secours Populaire Français, which once again this year is organising various campaigns to "guarantee the right to holidays set out in 1936". This is echoed by Richard Vainopoulos, president of the TourCom network, France’s second largest tourism network, who says "this is a continuation of the trend we’ve seen over the last 3-4 years".

The whole of Europe is affected

Almost 8% fewer Europeans will go on holiday compared to 2011, a decline most noticeable in southern European countries. Particularly hard-hit by the crisis, the Italians (-15%) and Spanish (-14%) are those whose getaway plans have fallen most sharply. But the trend is more widespread: -5% in Germany and in Austria, -2% in Belgium. Only the French rise above the trend, for 70% of them plan to go away, i.e. 2% more than last year.

Moreover, even for the privileged ones who are going away, there is no question of treating themselves to lavish holidays. Those who are paying for their holidays are keeping an eye on their finances. Therefore, 62% of English tourists and 46% of French tourists will be thriftier than last year. They will choose closer destinations (67% of French people will stay in France, a 7% increase compared to 2011), or they will limit the extra expenses. Vainopoulos emphasises that "holidaymakers refuse to be taken for mugs anymore; they know how to spend wisely". He also criticises the "tendency among shopkeepers in seaside resorts to raise their prices in summer".

"Holidays are not a luxury, they’re a right!"

"Travelling is a luxury product" for Vainopoulos, who notices a strong disparity between the summer season, set aside for family holidays, and the winter season, where "people are less concerned about their budget".
In any case, this is bad news according to Lauprêtre, who reminds us that "holidays are not a luxury, they’re a right!" A few days ago, at the opening of Secours Populaire’s summer campaign, he argued in favour of "Olympiads of Solidarity".

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