Demand for holidays, which increased in the 1950s, was stagnant in the early to mid-1960s. Towards the end of the 1960s, rising standards in Britain, coupled with the increasingly competitive position of foreign package tours, led to a rapid rise in the number of holidays taken abroad. Thus, while domestic holiday expenditure rose by 78 percent (from £320 million in 1951 to £570 million in 1968), British tourist spending abroad rose from £60 million in 1951 to £320 million in 1968. Whereas holidays abroad in 1951 accounted for only 16 percent of total expenditure; in 1968 they represented 36 percent. However, it is important to stress that foreign travel in the 1960s was predominantly enjoyed by the higher socioeconomic groups and the young.
   In the 1970s, the demand for holidays became more geographically diffused, further undermining the established resorts. Also, foreign holidays dramatically reduced the rate of domestic holidays, resulting in a rapid expansion in shortstay holidays along the British coastline. These new types of holidays fell into three main categories: caravans, holiday cottages and day trips. The 1970s was the decade when caravanning became extremely popular, but as package holidays increased, the consumer exchanged the caravan for the beaches of Costa Brava in Spain. Furthermore, the 1970s were the first time that holidays were financially available to people in the lower socio-economic groups. Therefore, it is important to place holidays and tourism in an economic context because of the symbiotic relationship between social and economic change; holidays and tourism must be seen as standard features of consumer society lifestyles, in that they tend to be occasions of extravagance and conspicuous consumption. Further, as David Chaney suggests, ‘the practice of holidaying has become a display of citizenship and the tourist is expected to conform to a script of orderly consumption’ (Chaney 1993:165).
   The amount of leisure per person within Britain has grown significantly. Key factors have been the reductions in working time, longer periods of retirement, and the rise of forced leisure in the form of unemployment. Until the 1950s paid holiday entitlements were very limited, particularly among manual workers. Between 1950 and 1975 such entitlements were much extended, and by 1980 a majority of manual workers had four or more weeks of paid holidays, secured by the relevant trade unions. This extension of holiday, coupled with the rise in personal incomes, enabled growing numbers to take vacations away from home. In 1980 62 percent of British residents took holidays abroad in comparison with 56 percent in 1966. Tourism in the 1990s was an extremely sophisticated machine, making full use of all information technology strategies, thus securing efficient and effective communications.
   Since their formation in 1969, the statutory Tourist Boards have sought to spread the benefits of tourism throughout Britain and to assist the tourist industry to become and remain competitive. In the 1980s, tourism was widely promoted as a coherent entity rather than a multi-product sector, for political and economic reasons. Labelling tourism an industry was a method of unifying a heterogeneous and diverse number of different businesses which individually had very little lobbying power than the more homogeneous industries like transport and agriculture. Thus, they were able to achieve greater visibility with the government and the public.
   Further reading
    Chaney, D. (1993) Fictions of Collective Life: Public Drama in Late Modern Culture, London: Routledge.
    Holloway, J.C. (1989) The Business of Tourism, London: Pitman.
    Voase, R. (1995) Tourism: The Human Perspective, London: Hodder & Stoughton.

Encyclopedia of contemporary British culture . . 2014.

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