The Lacunae of Heliosis: Package Holidays and the Long 1970s

  • Martin Farr
Part of the Britain and the World book series (BAW)


It could, possibly, be hoped to elicit a reasonable chuckle from the television audience of a situation comedy, where the situation is a package holiday, or inclusive tour (IT) — a genre that might be called the ‘IT-com’ — for a character to speak of ‘heliosis’, and for another to visualise one of the lesser-known islands of the Dodecanese. The same characters and similar confusion could ensue when a ‘lacuna’ is mistaken for an area of brackish or salt water separated from the sea. The scriptwriter’s expectation that the audience for that sort of show may not be aware of the meaning of either word is most pertinent: they are among the reasons — and there are others — why ethnographic studies of ‘mass’ tourism are relatively uncommon. The present sketch hopes to contribute to the portraiture of popular experience by considering the transitional period of a pivotal industry, when opportunities came to be realised just as circumstances threatened to circumscribe them; when it still seemed oxymoronic to speak of ‘the Leisure Industries’.2 Modern seaside tourism — the genesis of heliosis — was a Victorian British invention, and one in which Britain (atypically) retained its prominence. Nowhere was this more so than in the creation and popularisation of package tourism, the most important innovation in what became an industry both of and in ‘Medland’: the holiday camps of dim and damp British seaside towns transported to and pollinating along the coastline of the Mediterranean, and with it the sun, sea, sand and sex of stereotype.


Tour Operator Travel Agent Foreign Travel Package Tourism Mass Tourism 
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© Martin Farr 2013

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  • Martin Farr

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