The National Holiday Service was set up in 1948 as a socialist experiment to provide free at the point of use, all-inclusive holidays to citizens of the United Kingdom. Around 18% of all national taxation is spent on the National Holiday Service; everyone in the population contributes through VAT, income tax and national insurance.
Since its inception the holidays available have increased exponentially though government spending on holidays has struggled to keep up. Most people were happy with a week in Skegness in the post-war years. However with technological advances, holidays are becoming more complex and more expensive. As the population ages, it needs more holidays.
The whole system has been struggling along with insufficient funding for some years
Many of the National Holiday Service resorts have now reached ‘foundation’ status; they are answerable directly to the Secretary of State for Holidays. To get to these resorts people must book through local holiday ’general placement surgeries’, which operate mainly as independent contractors. Many people simply come in to have a look at the brochures.
The whole system has been struggling along with insufficient funding for some years. The advent of the Internet means holidays can be researched online, thus increasing the expectations of holiday-makers for what they can get for a lifetime of contributions. Donkeys on the beach may have cut it in the 1950s but the modern holiday needs to include zorbing in New Zealand.
Of course many people, who are most in need of a holiday and a stay at a foundation resort, bypass the local surgery and head straight there by booking themselves straight onto a flight at access points known as Airport and Excursions. Despite much hand-wringing, the number of admissions via Airport and Excursions is going up. Congestion at resorts occurs when holiday-makers are simply unable to return home for social reasons, such as not having the right clothes to wear at dinner parties. Resorts often run at over 95% capacity.
The whole system is at breaking point, with the Secretary of State for Holidays accusing resort-workers and local surgeries of not working hard enough to ensure that the holiday system can be run at a low cost, with rapid efficiency and high quality. Fears exist that the National Holiday Service is being run down in order for private firms to provide holidays instead of the government. These would be funded via holiday insurance, alongside a cut in taxes to compensate for the rise in the cost of living healthily. A senior civil servant has been quoted as saying, ’No-one really believes in all-inclusive deals these days, with the dodgy food and PFI-funded buildings. The future is private, mandatory holiday cover.’
Dr Samir Dawlatly is a GP in Birmingham