AS the 2014 holiday season kicks off amidst a heatwave - and the Government crackdown on parents taking their kids out of school during term time - Visit Devon Chairman Carolyn Custerson has highlighted that Devon can be up to five times better value than a USA summer break.

In the wake of ex-Education Minister Michael Gove’s school holiday fines, Visit Devon has compared the cost of a family holiday taken during official school holiday periods in Devon versus travelling abroad. The comparison shows it can be five times more expensive for a family to holiday in Florida than in Devon, whilst a comparable holiday in the County comes in at under a third of the cost of a holiday in Spain.

Carolyn Custerson said: “The Government’s school holiday changes have certainly affected businesses in Devon and we will have to see in future years, by changing their offering to attract pre-school children and single couples, whether or not tourism businesses can regain the ground they’ve lost this year.

"What is abundantly clear however, is that for a typical family, booking their summer holiday outside term-time, Devon is a great option coming in far cheaper than holidays in Spain, Turkey or America. And, with this weather set to stay, I know where I’d rather be.”

“So far 2014 has been one of the toughest I can remember for tourism” she continues, “All the negative media frenzy over the Dawlish railway line had a big impact on bookings, but for the first time there has also been a change in family bookings because of Michael Gove’s changes and the fear of school fines, which has meant that occupancy levels have been down for May, June and early July. It’s a national issue and the Government must be challenged on it.”