Single-parent families could soon benefit from cheaper holidays and more flexibility after a Sky News investigation highlighted the price discrimination they often face when travelling abroad.
In the first signs of change in the UK travel industry, one holiday company is to start offering holidays specifically tailored for single-parent families at a selection of its long-haul resorts.
:: Single parents pay more for family holidays
Virgin Holidays says families could save up to £1,000 depending on when they travel but the reduction in price will only apply to 10 of their family-friendly resorts in the Caribbean.
Managing director of Virgin Holidays, Joe Thompson, said: “We heard from customers and Sky News that this lack of flexibility historically in the travel industry was something that was causing frustration and we are really pleased that we have been able to sit down with our partner resorts and work pretty quickly to get something together in terms of a collection of holidays in the Caribbean.
“We are starting with a relatively small group of properties but we are really excited about where it could lead.”
While campaign groups have welcomed this initiative as a step forward, for many single parents the policy does not go far enough.
Image: The reductions will apply to 10 Virgin Holiday resorts in the Caribbean
Alice Judge-Talbot, a writer from Milton Keynes, is a single mother to two young children and says for her family travelling long-haul just is not an option.
She said: “I don’t think this change will help us. We travel in Europe so I don’t have to deal with two children on a long flight with all our luggage.
“The logistics of going on holiday as a single parent with two or more children is very, very tricky and I think it would work well for tour operators to look at that experience because just fixing that small part of a single parents holiday could make the difference between having a bit of a rubbish time and having the best holiday ever.”
She added: “Everything in life seems to be geared up for the nuclear family of two adults and two children, it’s still a very niche offering and not many companies offer anything toward single parents. I understand it from an economic point of view but the world is changing and people don’t necessarily travel as a family of four anymore.”
The majority of family holidays are based on a pricing model of two adults sharing a room and many of the free child places and other deals are only applicable with two full paying adults.
Rosie Ferguson, chief executive of single-parent charity Gingerbread, says companies play an important role in supporting single parents and as the make-up of society continues to evolve, the structure of the travel industry should as well.
She said: “Single parents feel they face a lot of discrimination both in terms of the price and the fact that things are often out of reach and also the stigma associated with going on holiday on your own.
“One in four families are headed by a single parent and companies are currently missing out on reaching those potential customers as well as those families missing out on holidays and other services. So by offering the right price point which is welcoming to single parent families, we can really change the value of single parents in society.”
While there are signs of hope on the horizon for single parent families going on holiday, campaigners say it will be take much more than small changes from one company to one destination to make a difference.