The trend towards longer annual holidays with pay and the development of tourist travel into a full-scale industry have led to such congestion in the customary holiday months that there is a widespread desire for improvement in the quality of the holiday.
The dimensions of the problem can be illustrated most vividly by taking Prance, which is an extreme case.
Whereas in 1925 rather less than 40,000 industrial workers had an annual holiday under the terms of the collective agreements, in 1962 over 12 million adults (most of whom will have been employees) are known to have taken the holiday away from home - over half of them during the month of August.1 A survey for the period 1 October 1972 to 30 September 1973 showed that practically one out of every two went away for a holiday. The average annual increase in the number going away on holiday at least once a year was 3.3 per cent, of which only 1 per cent was accounted for by population growth.2 Moreover, most of the holidays are concentrated in the two months of July and August. Apart from this concentration in time, there was also a concentration in space: in the 1960s, 40 per cent of vacations went to the same six départements of France.
Figure 6. The summer holidays calendar
Three graphs based on a survey in 1962 (see figure 6) provide an interesting comparison of when the French took their holidays, when they would have preferred to take them, and when they could have taken them if certain proposals were followed.
An even more instructive picture at the same period is given in figure 7. This shows very striking differences, as between the countries covered, in the extent to which industrial production was affected by departures on holidays in August. For example, it fell from the annual average to two-thirds of this (100 to 66.5) in France, whereas over 80 or 90 per cent of production was maintained in the other countries given.
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