chapter  1
15 Pages

Introduction: children’s and families’ holiday experiences

Children, encompassing everyone from babies to adolescents, represent a significant portion of the world’s population and tourist market in their own right and as a component of the family. Families are the entity in which children, and their parents,1 spend the majority of their leisure and tourism-related time (Mayo and Jarvis, 1981; Shaw and Williams, 1994; Cooper et al., 1998; Swarbrooke and Horner, 1999; Shaw and Dawson, 2001; Turley, 2001; Lehto et al., 2009). Consequently, it is not surprising that the family vacation has been identified as representing a significant portion of leisure travel around the world (Shaw et al., 2008). Indeed, the US Travel Association (2009) has stated that one in four of all the holidays taken by US households in the country in 2003 included at least one child under 18 years of age. Similarly, Seaton (1992) and Kang et al. (2003) have pointed out that the family represents one of the largest markets for tour operators and other vacation service providers. The apparent significance of the family to the tourism industry is reinforced by the industry itself in its marketing material. Indeed, as Marshment (1997) notes, the family, particularly the nuclear version, which consists of a husband, wife and their children, has been widely presented in tourism advertising as the hegemonic consumer of the holiday experience, especially as far as beachoriented holidays are concerned.