2018: Exploring the possibilities of a critical tourism approach: What it means to embed social justice to transform lives of visitors and workers in tourism?  >  Social tourism, accessibility and wellbeing: Enabling participation and improving lives


Discussion paper of the characteristics of social tourism, stigma and endurance for UK charities.

Written by: Bennett, Claire

University: Lincoln

Discussion paper of the characteristics of social tourism system, stigma & endurance for UK charities.


This paper takes the approach of understanding the characteristics of social tourism, stigma and endurance for UK charities. It will illustrate the meaning of social tourism and where the term comes from. The paper will also examine the role of an organisation, who deals solely in social tourism and look at who they provide for and the way they organise and what barriers they are facing with their overall aim wanting access to tourism for all members of society, regardless of their individual characteristics or requirements.

Keywords: Social Tourism, UK, organisation, charities, funding.


Social tourism has been defined as making tourism available for low-income/disadvantage families and individuals who are unable to afford to travel for their education, creation or respite. In the United Kingdom the awareness for social tourism goes unnoticed as there is not enough publicity on the scheme, this is due to lack of evidence and knowledge. Holidays in the United Kingdom are understood to be a luxury consumer or earned from a reward for working and not as a human right. Although it has been proven that regular holidays have a positive impact on well-being, including mental health, as a holiday/break gives people a chance to relax and rest. It also has a good impact on society, employment and economic for the destination (McCabe, et al, 2012).

Social tourism started in 1936, when the International Labour Organisation (ILO), agreed a Holiday with Pay Convention (Convention no.52). The convention is in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948 and is classed as a social human right, giving people the right to freedom and relation. Disappointingly after this convention was declared a human right, little was heard of social tourism in the UK for decades. It was not until 2003 did the Department for Working and Pensions recognised to provide and promote affordable holidays and recreation for all members of society (United Nations, undated).

The reason the topic of understanding the characteristics of social tourism, stigma and endurance for UK charities was chosen was because of there is little literature on the topic and so this paper confronts the challenges and barriers associated with access to tourism and will highlight the areas in which the literature fails to address in, this why the topic was raised. Social tourism in the UK is supported by charities and public funding, for example the Family Holiday Association (FHA), who are a provider for low-income families and families with disabled children. The UK government does not have an indirect role. Many of the providers for social tourism identify themselves as respite care and not social tourism. This is because the UK government allocates a certain amount of funding to help people who have disabilities. As a result of the government helping people with disabilities, the Family Holiday Association (FHA) decided to move away from this particular area and began raising funds for families with a low-income with children who are under the age of 18, grandparents, siblings and carers. The charity began to investigate further as to why so many people were being excluded from what most people take for granted. The charity soon realised that lack of evidence was something that needed to be done and to encourage more research into the benefits for people, especially families to access holidays. The findings that the Family Holiday Association found was social tourism models in Europe, examples of successful schemes are in countries in Denmark, Spain, France and Belgium, these countries offer opportunities for people who are excluded from tourism activities. The charity soon began building a network of friends and partners, in both the UK and Europe in order to promote social tourism. This has encouraged local tourism and transport providers to join the charity, such as Haven Holidays, National Trust, London Zoo, Edinburgh and York Castle, Merlin Entertainment, National Express and Western Trains (Family Holiday Association, 2016). Due to the larger organisations that are now working with the Family Holiday Association has increased the profile on social tourism, due to the brand names. By building new relations will attract new investments and create new jobs and help to combat seasonality.

Other important factors raised in the paper is the break for the carers (the people who are looking after the people who need their care) for them, this means that having time off and being away from everyday situations and a break from the normal routine can relieve pressure and added tension. If a carer did not have any time off from their duties, their relationship, work could have negative effects and lead them to struggle with physical and mental issues themselves. For the young carers it is an opportunity for them to be themselves and have fun days out, which helps them stopping from missing out on their childhood. For the recipients by spending time away will broaden the horizons, strengthen family relationships and for the social interaction too. (Family Holiday Association, 2016).

To conclude the summarised discussion of the characteristics of social tourism system, stigma and endurance for UK charities, it can be said that social tourism should be recognised as an important part of social responsibility to all disadvantage groups which have been spoken about in the conference paper. It is has also been acknowledged that more research and support is needed for social tourism in the United Kingdom and to make it more publicised.

Reference list:

Family Holiday Association, (2016) Social tourism in the UK – A short History. Available from https://holidaydirector.org/2016/12/21/social-tourism-in-the-uk-a-short-history/ {accessed 12 May 2018}.

McCabe, S., Minnaert, L. and Diekmann, A (2012) Aspects of Tourism: Social Tourism in Europe – Theory and Practice. Bristol: Publication Data.

United Nations, (Undated) United Nations: Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Available from http://www.un.org/en/universal-declaration-human-rights/ {accessed 12 May 2018}.

Further discussion on the characteristics of social tourism, stigma and endurance for UK charities.

Written by: Robinson, Evan

University: Lincoln

I have chosen to comment on this discussion paper as it relates to a topic I once considered for my own paper. This discussion does a good job explaining the various aspects that either inhibit or encourage the growth of this idea of social tourism. One can easily understand the reasoning behind people with easily diagnosable or visible disabilities getting help directly from the government in regard to travel. This is due in part to the fact that their needs for help when it comes to traveling are much more visible to their fellow citizens. However, like the author discusses, there are many different groups of people with their own unique problems when it comes to traveling that could benefit from the growth of this idea of social tourism. One such group that I researched was orphan children in the United States.

According to the U.S. Children’s Bureau there are a total of 437,465 children in foster care. Those 20,532 individuals who age out of foster care often have very dim prospects due to stunted emotional and educational development. On average children raised in these environments suffer a 20 point IQ decrease when compared to their peers (AFCARS Report, 2017). 25% of those who aged out did not have a high school diploma and only 6% went on to complete a 2 or 4 year college degree (Winerip, M., 2018). While adopted children make up only 2% of the total child population, 11% of adolescents referred for therapy were adopted children.

Traveling may be a good way to minimize or negate some of the damage done to these children. According to Jaak Panksepp traveling helps to exercise two systems related to the limbic system. These two systems relate to play and seeking. The play system is exercised when a child is allowed to be creative and allowed to develop new ideas. The seeking system is exercised when a child is introduced to a new environment and allowed to explore. The more these systems are allowed to exercise outside of a routine schedule, the better the chance a child will develop positive personality traits, in addition to relieving accumulated stress (Montag, C. and Panksepp, J., 2017).

Just for this group alone the growth and implementation of social tourism programs, such as those discussed by the author, stand to benefit and help this one group in many ways. So just imagine what would happen if this idea of social tourism was to be expanded upon further. Many people would benefit in similar ways if travel was made more accessible.

The AFCARS Report. (2017). 24th ed. [pdf] Washington D.C.: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Available at: https://www.acf.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/cb/afcarsreport24.pdf

Montag, C. and Panksepp, J. (2017). Primary Emotional Systems and Personality: An Evolutionary Perspective. Frontiers in Psychology, [online] 8. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5387097/

Winerip, M. (2018). Out of Foster Care, Into College. [online] Nytimes.com. Available at: https://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/03/education/edlife/extra-support-can-make-all-the-difference-for-foster-youth.html