The 'Staycation' is here to stay
Published 27/02/2010 | 05:00
They say the recession is God's way of teaching us local geography. During our jet-set boom years, we barely thought twice about spending St Patrick's weekend in Barcelona or Budapest or taking the kids to the Alps for Easter. Then we had our wings clipped by the downturn and started looking closer to home for our annual break.
But if you thought that the dreaded word 'staycation' was yesterday's news, sadly it's going to be part of our tourism lexicon for a little time yet.
New figures show that one in four of us is planning to take our holidays in Ireland this year, despite the prospect of a fourth soggy summer in a row.
More surprising still is the fact that the cohort of the population with the most spare cash -- the over 65s -- are the ones fuelling this boom in domestic tourism, with at least 50pc of that age group keeping their passports out of commission until at least next year.
All of this is a great boost of course to the dozens of hotels on their last legs around the country, but it spells trouble for Aer Lingus and Ryanair and could lead to more route cuts and higher fares.
Worse still, financial pressures will prevent 13pc of us from taking holidays at all this year, according to the research by Postbank.
People who live in Connacht are most likely to spend their annual break in the back garden this year, compared with at least 68pc of Dubliners who are planning to escape to foreign shores.
And good for them! New research shows that they will definitely be the better for it.
The study, by Dutch sociologists, reveals the long-lasting effects of a good holiday, which can boost happiness levels for up two months afterwards.
The research studied the moods of 1,500 adults and found that a 'very relaxing' trip can lift the spirits for more than eight weeks after returning. Many of those interviewed said their quality of life improved in the weeks running up to their trip too.
So it could be argued that a short hop to the south of France could keep the endorphins flowing for a quarter of the year.
However, taking no more than a fortnight in the sun once a year may not be the answer when it comes to maximising the benefits of a holiday. The study found that most people come back from their two weeks away feeling not much happier than they were before they went, and many are particularly miserable at the prospect of returning to work.
The secret, says the team at Rotterdam University, is to take a few short holidays during the year, rather than one traditional summer break.
They also suggest that schools should be more flexible about allowing parents to take their children away during term time.
That's not a bad idea. There's nothing like a change of scenery to stimulate the brain and, as my father always used to tell me, travel is the best education.
Why stand in front of a blackboard reciting French verbs ad nauseum when you could be in Paris ordering a baguette from the local boulangerie?