Excuse the mutterings of an old geriatric, but I well remember the days when there was really only two holiday resorts that really mattered to we young children; Blackpool and Rhyl. Every now and again we heard glowing tales of Southport and Llandudno but they were a little bit too posh and expensive for most people. At school the wealthy kids would go to exotic places like France or Germany, travelling by train and staying in small guest houses, but this type of holiday was completely beyond the reach of the great mass of us! Times have changed, and how.
It was the great innovator Freddie Laker who we have to thank for first bringing cheap air travel to the ordinary man and woman in the street and opening up the delights of Benidorm, Magaluf and Ibiza to people who had never been farther than the nearest seaside resort in their lives. We realised then that it was completely possible to have a private bathroom with a WC and a shower just off our hotel bedrooms, instead of the tiny wash hand basin which for so many years we had been grateful for, whilst having a bath on holiday in an English resort inevitably meant standing in a queue outside a shabby bathroom with lukewarm rusty coloured water trickling from worn brass taps which were impossible to turn off completely. Brown Windsor soup followed by overcooked beef skirt and lumpy mashed potato gave way to pizzas, paellas and Greek salads; warm flat beer gave way to chilled white wine.
The rush to the Mediterranean didn't end there, and it is now perfectly normal for working-class parents to take their children to Asia, America, and even Africa for their annual holidays and there are many people in Britain who are more familiar with the streets of Alicante or Rio de Janeiro than they are with those of Manchester or Birmingham as holiday resorts in far-flung regions together with cheap mass transport systems have opened up the world to all but the least affluent.
The credit crunch has changed the holiday situation somewhat particularly with the fall in the pound against the euro, and more people are holidaying in Britain now whilst conversely numbers going to Spain have fallen. It does appear though that most people take the attitude that come what may they will still have their holiday each year, and it is still a major part of the budget for millions of people. How things will pan out in the future is uncertain because none of us, especially so-called experts, can predict what the eventual results of the recession will be but whether the pound soars back to new heights or drops like a stone the holiday resorts around the world will still be there and still eager to attract their British clients, so no matter what happens to currency fluctuations the more enterprising holiday companies will still find a ready market and who knows, we may even go back to the days of ultra-cheap holidays that we enjoyed before Spain and Greece in particular joined the Common Market and prices rocketed.