Posted by: aboutalbion | August 29, 2013

Holiday mappers

(While I am still away from the web, I’m grabbing this chance to post with the help of a library wi-fi.)

I’m aware that I have an above average grasp of physical geography, but I was not prepared for the results of the British Airways survey of 2000 European holidaymakers (carried out last summer) and published a few days ago.

In the survey, holidaymakers were asked to pinpoint their holiday destination on a plain map of the countries of Europe.  Three of many findings were (a) 53% of those holidaying in Cyprus, (b) 25% of those holidaying in Spain, and (c) 24% of those holidaying in Ireland could not correctly identify their chosen holiday country on a plain map of Europe.

The lead reason given by the holidaymakers in the survey for their holiday choice was temperature, and this will probably encourage those researchers who believe that people who decide ‘relationally’ are just as numerous as those who decide ‘spatially’.

Alternatively, the focus on holiday temperature may be interpreted as choosing a destination that would give the holidaymaker ‘bragging rights’ when s/he returned, rather than that which would enable them to encounter another culture in a meaningful way.

This survey gives me two concerns.

First, I am wondering if the political parties of the UK (who want to prepare the British electorate for a referendum on Europe) should include more explicit references to the geography of Europe in their speeches.

Second, I am concerned that the price that has been paid by the shift in emphasis from physical geography to human geography in UK school lessons has been underestimated.

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