A History of the Ministry of Information, 1939-46

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Introduction : Data were obtained from a representative sample of 2,863 people over 14, interviewed in England, Scotland and Wales during September 1946, at the request of the Board of Trade and other government departments. A first report was issued in November 1946 and a supplementary report in August 1947. The results are combined here. They should be regarded as a pioneer exploration of the subject. Every effort has been made to ensure that the information obtained is accurate but there is not enough reliable evidence from other sources to provide independent checks on the degree of accuracy achieved.

Chapter 1 . 50 per cent of the people interviewed went away on holiday in 1946, and about 74 per cent were likely to want to do so in 1947. Only 4 per cent had arranged their 1947 holiday at the time of interview. The average amount they were prepared to pay per person is £26. 10s. This is 19 per cent more than was paid in 1946. The total amount of money available in 1947 is therefore 76 per cent more than was actually spent in 1946. People who had no holiday in 1946 are prepared to pay as much as those who had one.

Occupation, income, region of residence and age are all found to influence people’s prospects of being able to go away on holiday; but approximately the same proportions of people in both sexes had a holiday in 1946.

Chapter 2 . The proportion of people who can manage to take a holiday is approximately at the same level in April, May and June. It rises sharply in July but drops again after August to the level of the earlier months. But people’s preferences have a wider span; they would equally well enjoy holidays in June or early September. Thus the holiday season could be extended from two months to three and a half.

External circumstances restrict the range of the season. Of outstanding importance in people’s minds are limits imposed by their employment. An occupational analysis confirms the importance of this cause. Of next importance is family cohesion; and confirming evidence is given in this and the following chapter. Other less important causes are school term times and local Fair Weeks.

Chapter 3 . Many details concerning customary holiday arrangements are presented here:

Most people take their holidays in family parties: 73 per cent of the holiday-makers did so in 1946 and 77 per cent of the intending holiday-makers wanted to do so in 1947. The more children there are in a family the more likely is it that no one in the family will take a holiday.

The main movements of the population are to the coast and to the South. The figures provide some indication of the size of the catering and accommodation problem in each region. People were willing to contemplate longer journeys in 1947 than those they made in 1946. The average length of journey in 1946 was just under 5 hours from door to door. Saturday was the day in the week when most people could manage to travel. The causes for this are similar to those limiting the holiday season: principally occupational necessities, secondly family cohesion.

Holidays are usually for one or two weeks, sometimes more; it is unusual to have a holiday which is not an exact multiple of 7 days. The arithmetical average is about 10 days.

Most people like seaside holidays at large resorts, but town and country holidays have some steadfast adherents.

30 per cent of the holiday-makers wanted Board Residence in 1947, and smaller percentages wanted other types of accommodation. Some people regularly expect to go as non-paying guests; but many who did this in 1946 did not want to do so again in 1947. ‘Bed and Breakfast’ accommodation seems also generally avoided. 48 per cent of the people who knew what type of accommodation they wanted in 1947 had not decided to what region to go. Those who make the type of accommodation their first consideration are generally those who prefer the more expensive types.

17 per cent of the holiday-makers in 1946 did not reserve their accommodation in advance, and another 9 per cent did so less than a week in advance. Only 6 per cent reserved more than three months in advance. 39 per cent obtained their accommodation by invitation, and another 51 per cent through personal recommendation, previous experience or personal enquiry. Only 10 per cent did so through advertisements or agencies.

17 per cent of the people who went away in 1946 described their accommodation as expensive, 72 per cent reasonable and 11 per cent cheap. Details of prices reported paid per adult per week are tabulated and analysed.

Conclusion : The findings are discussed in relation to the problem of adjusting the supply of accommodation to the demand. The report does not cover the whole problem, but the results suggest that the excess demand may be best met by arrangements to extend the holiday season. They do not, in themselves, establish a case for creating additional accommodation.

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