June 6, 2009

The environmental cost of Europeans taking August off

As you know, Europeans usually get five or even six weeks vacation per year. They mostly take most of their vacation in August so that they don't mess up organizational productivity the rest of the year by being absent too much.

Something I hadn't thought about was how this system requires enormous amount of building of holiday lodging in order to have enough capacity in late July through early September. I was on the Bodrum peninsula in the southwest corner of Turkey in late Spring, when the weather is perfect, but the place, with its immense numbers of vacation homes and small hotels was practically empty because A. the Turkish schools weren't out for the year yet, and Turks vacation as families; B. Europeans (in Turkey, mostly Germans and Brits) aren't going on vacation now because they have so much vacation coming up in a couple of months.

California resorts probably aim for, say, 50% occupancy over the course of a year (hey, it's a Mediterranean climate, so the weather is okay most of the year), but Mediterranean resorts can't expect much above 15% occupancy. So, there has to be a remarkable amount of holiday lodging sprawl to accommodate the teeming Europeans during the brief high season.

Personally, I don't mind the sprawl and constant construction along Turkey's spectacular coasts, but by the anti-development standards of the California Coastal Commission, European vacation schedules would be considered an environmental disaster.

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

25 comments:

KingM said...

Where did you get the occupancy figures for Turkey? They sound unsustainable. I own a small hotel and I can't imagine how you could keep a business running with only 15% occupancy.

Anonymous said...

Actually, many europeans take winter vacations too. I was on Chang Island (east side of gulf of thailand, near cambodian border) last March and it was crawling with europeans (mostly germans). The hotels were full. As far as i could tell, (judging by the conversations on the beach and in the restaurants) I was the only american. I started to ask myself, what's with americans? don't they take vacations?

Similarly, there are islands in the Philippines (Siquijor) that are crawling with germans in the winter. They rent cottages for four weeks or more. No americans, though. How come?

ironrailsironweights said...

This is part of the reason why subway systems in the United States are guaranteed money-losers (along with greedy unions, meddlesome politicians, and ignorant bureaucrats, of course). Ridership is much higher during rush hours than for most of the day. Systems have to be built to accommodate rush hour ridership, which leaves them way over capacity for most of the day.

Peter

Let's! said...

Now that the neocons aren't in power, Steve doesn't have to strike his anti-anti-Europe pose anymore.

Sorry, France. The paleos just see you as hypocritical SWPLism run amok now. You're no longer useful as an Enemy of the Neocons. Maybe the paleos will even start talking about your neglect during that ugly 2003 heat wave.

Half Sigma said...

So how is this different from the Hamptons during the off-season?

Anyway, I doubt the average European spends all 6 weeks off from work away from home. It's an American thing to make sure to spend your vacation time away from home in order not to "waste" the time off, but with six weeks off, you can afford to spend some of the time just lounging around the house.

Anonymous said...

The standard two weeks vacation model has been obsolete among certain groups of knowledge workers (e.g. in tech) for quite some time.

At my job (a startup) no one ever takes a formal vacation. And I mean never. Everyone works nights and weekends, as you can see from the humming email list and commit logs.

But people will frequently work from home and come to work whenever they want. You can run an errand at any time of day and it's fine.

Is there anyone else here who hates taking formal vacations? It's such a pain to plan and to be in a strange place without your familiar toothbrush and jogging path.

It's nice to live in a pleasant place, aim to work 365 days per year (or close), but also be able to sleep, eat, or shop whenever you want.

Black Sea said...

As it happens, one of my in-laws runs a hotel in Bodrum (much less grand than the Bodrum Palace, if that's where you were staying). Anyway, the hotel closes from October to May. I get the impression that this is fairly common. There's not enough business in the off-season to make it worth the trouble to winterize the place.

dearieme said...

One (wonderful) place that gets holiday traffic all year round is Madeira. They joke that many of their visitors are the newly wed and the nearly dead.

clem said...

Is there anyone else here who hates taking formal vacations?

That would be me, although I've thankfully only had one year in my life when I had to abide by a normal 9-to-5:30 schedule, including taking weekends when everyone else does.

Yes, I'm in I.T. too--and being able to eat, sleep, and shop whenever you want is absolutely the way to go. (I got up at 6:30 pm yesterday, had a nap later, worked through the night, and am now trying to stay up until the post office opens at noon.)

Anyway, the hotel closes from October to May. I get the impression that this is fairly common. There's not enough business in the off-season to make it worth the trouble to winterize the place.

Much tourism in Canada is similarly seasonal, e.g., fishing resorts which are only open from May to September, or businesses in tourist towns which keep the same schedule. When I worked at a hotel in Lake Louise (Rocky Mountains), there was a tea house further up in the mountains which was likewise only open for the summer season. Only Christmas break and spring break were really worth keeping the hotel open for--for some reason people don't want to vacation in Canada over the winter. Go figure.

Anonymous said...

your anti-immigration stance is actually leftist because it would cause wage increases for americans.

So of course you have to stake your claim to rightwingerism elsewhere, as here.

OneSTDV said...

"and being able to eat, sleep, and shop whenever you want is absolutely the way to go."

I've always thought production would increase drastically if this model were adopted. Coincidentally, it's also the ultimate goal of my working life.

Anonymous said...

"Personally, I don't mind the sprawl and constant construction along Turkey's spectacular coasts..."

Seriously? Why not? You post that old picture of you and the old man out in the woods, and yet...

The conservative mindset is as confusing to me as the liberal.

Graham Asher said...

I suppose by 'Europeans' Steve means 'continental Europeans'. The pattern for British people is, at least among my acquaintances, very different: a week off between Christmas and new year, always either at home or (partly) with parents, in-laws or adult children; plus two or three separate trips at different times of the year - skiing or winter sun in the first quarter of the year, a main holiday some time between June and September, and maybe another trip. The freedom you have depends greatly on whether you have school-age children, of course. There is no such thing as everybody taking August off, because no firm wants to have to shut down completely.

My personal favourite holiday is a week of walking in the Pyrenees or Scandinavia, which can get me eight days in the wilderness for an investment of five days leave. Actually the 'five days leave' thing is sort of irrelevant because I am self-employed, but I tend to go on thinking in that way.

Anonymous said...

I'm told by Europeans who worked in the US that Americans work long hours but are not so productive. So maybe Europeans deserve longer holidays.



Anyway, when it comes to essentials, nobody in Europe will change their lifestyles to suit any Green ideology, least of all the elites.

Anonymous said...

We work WAY too much in the US and need more vacation time.

Kelly said...

... stake your claim to rightwingerism ...

Does anybody else find this an utterly incomprehensible notion (as well as completely off-topic)? How very revealing, to assume that others' beliefs are founded in postures and positioning rather than, say, principle.

The White Detroiter said...

"Is there anyone else here who hates taking formal vacations?"

Put me in that same camp. I'm a CPA who works a low stress job in a comfortable high rise building. I live close enough to the office that I can walk to work but I also can do some of my work from home when I feel like it and I have flexible hours. Also I live by myself and don't have much family so I don't have anyone to travel with. Thus I don't feel much need for vacation time but my employer makes me take 20 days off a year. I can't take any days off during tax season (late January to early April) so I really only have an eight month window to take all that time off.

Anonymous said...

I think women are more likely than men to be keen on formal sightseeing-type vacations. Like other kinds of unnecessary spending, vacations give them something to brag about to other women. It's like real diamonds.

Most of Steve's readership is male, hence lots of proud expressions of disinterest in formal vacations.

I_Affe said...

I'm a big vacation fan. I regret that I get so little time off of work. I'm not that smart, but I am smart enough to know that I'll never invent anything fantastic or do anything spectacular in my working life. Therefore, I don't really want to spend my entire life working on, sometimes, stupid crap that doesn't really matter in the grand scheme of things and then die at work at the age of 82. I don't find my work or any potential work opportunities that I'd be qualified for all that fulfilling. I work to live.

Besides there's a whole world to see! Pryamids, jungles, hot local ladies with cute accents, etc.

Anonymous said...

"Actually, many europeans take winter vacations too. I was on Chang Island (east side of gulf of thailand, near cambodian border) last March and it was crawling with europeans (mostly germans). The hotels were full. As far as i could tell, (judging by the conversations on the beach and in the restaurants) I was the only american. I started to ask myself, what's with americans? don't they take vacations?"

What are you talking about? You can't move in central London for bumping into a fat American tourists wobbling around photographing Guardsmen and old phoneboxes. Some of your young student women are quite attractive, but you know that all of them will either get fat, go mental, or both of the aforementioned within a decade of turning twenty one.

Still it could be worse, you could be Japanese!

"This is part of the reason why subway systems in the United States are guaranteed money-losers (along with greedy unions, meddlesome politicians, and ignorant bureaucrats, of course). Ridership is much higher during rush hours than for most of the day. Systems have to be built to accommodate rush hour ridership, which leaves them way over capacity for most of the day."

I assume the subway is the underground and not the shop? If so simple rely on people to squeeze themselves in tight at busy times, does everyone really need a seat? Or even this much vaunted 'personal space'? I accept that the percentage of your population that are ludricrous fatties may prove a problem, Lord knows you don't want some whale sweating all over you...

regular joe said...

Wow

this was an interesting window into Steve's geek readership cohort.

Yes, by all means, staying up all night to work, and eating nothing but hot pockets while wearing sweats or old jeans, that's the life. What fools those silly women and non geek men who obviously only wish to see new, beautiful, exotic places to brag about them. Don't they know the awesomeness that is a 7-11 big bite eaten when the masses are all at work-hah!

flex05 said...

average days holiday per year
France 38
Britain 26
Japan 15
US 13

I was feeling sorry for the way you guys get screwed but reading the comments on here it seems that even 13 is too much for some of you. What happened? Why do you want to spend YOUR time enriching some other f**ker? Are American workers like those hostages that fall for their kidnappers?

Ronduck said...

flex05, not everyone has a burning need to take a vacation. I worked continuously from around September '04 to September of '08 without a vacation. Finally, I went up to Washington state to see my relatives, but until that time I worked continuously.

Reactionary said...

What fools those silly women and non geek men who obviously only wish to see new, beautiful, exotic places to brag about them.

That's my impression of most people with this hobby. Generally they are 1) bored--to the point that not just any beach in the Caribbean will do--and/or 2) engaged in status games with other SWPL's. Consequently, it's mostly a hobby of single women and retirees, or students with wealthy parents.

Obviously, there are a lot of places out there that need to be visited rather than just read about but I think it's just another bragging point for the average yupster.

Ali said...

I once went about three years without taking a vacation. And that was a mistake. Visiting new and different places, be they cities or spectacular natural scenery gives you a real appreciation for the variety of experiences the planet and humanity at large have to offer.

Not taking a break to do something different is a recipe for losing inspiration and your productivity flat-lining.