Brits abroad: Technicolour photographs of Mediterranean package holidays in the 1970s

A couple lounging poolside with brightly coloured cocktails  (Jake Clark/Hoxton Mini Press)
A couple lounging poolside with brightly coloured cocktails (Jake Clark/Hoxton Mini Press)

Vividly coloured Speedos. Factor two sun cream. Couples lounging poolside with cocktails and cigarettes while the kids learn archery. This remarkable collection of images featuring British tourists in Spain was captured during the heyday of the package holidays in the 1970s.

Trevor Clark, the first British photographer to document the burgeoning hotels and the influx of tourists in Mallorca, was himself an expat in Spain, working on commissions from major tour operators seeking compelling images for their brochures.

His lens inevitably captured the evolution of the travel landscape during this transformative period. Today, these images, compiled by his son for a book titled The Package Holiday 1968–1985, serve as a nostalgic celebration of a bygone era.

Mallorca has long attracted Britons looking for a cheap week in the sun (Jake Clark/Hoxton Mini Press)
Mallorca has long attracted Britons looking for a cheap week in the sun (Jake Clark/Hoxton Mini Press)
Hotel Trinidad in Magaluf still entertains guests to this day (Jake Clark/Hoxton Mini Press)
Hotel Trinidad in Magaluf still entertains guests to this day (Jake Clark/Hoxton Mini Press)

Throughout the 1960s, UK foreign travel experienced a significant surge, doubling the annual number of British tourists to 5 million and propelling operators like Thomas Cook, Horizon, and Thomson to household names.

The repeal of Provision One in 1971, which previously prohibited selling package holidays below the cost of a standard return flight, marked another turning point for the industry.

A fierce price war ensued among operators, resulting in groundbreaking offers for all-inclusive beach breaks to Spain.

Package holidays have always offered more than just a room (Jake Clark/Hoxton Mini Press)
Package holidays have always offered more than just a room (Jake Clark/Hoxton Mini Press)
Many would take the chance to work on their holiday bodies (Jake Clark/Hoxton Mini Press)
Many would take the chance to work on their holiday bodies (Jake Clark/Hoxton Mini Press)

This newfound affordability reshaped the British tourism landscape, leading to a decline in visitors to traditional UK seaside holiday destinations.

Fun was shared across generations (Jake Clark/Hoxton Mini Press)
Fun was shared across generations (Jake Clark/Hoxton Mini Press)
Days were spent relaxing by the pool (Jake Clark/Hoxton Mini Press)
Days were spent relaxing by the pool (Jake Clark/Hoxton Mini Press)

Primarily, Clark captured authentic moments of leisure as tourists spent time at their hotels – a girl resting on a lounger, a man with an air pistol, or a group posing with glasses in hand.

Occasionally, he incorporated props to enhance a “tropical” ambience.

Holiday reps like the man on the right would be on call for the guests (Jake Clark/Hoxton Mini Press)
Holiday reps like the man on the right would be on call for the guests (Jake Clark/Hoxton Mini Press)
Opportunities to learn new skills abounded (Jake Clark/Hoxton Mini Press)
Opportunities to learn new skills abounded (Jake Clark/Hoxton Mini Press)

Each image vividly captured the camp and joyful atmosphere of a world in which holidaymakers revelled in cheap flights, Mediterranean sun, and all-inclusive, all-you-can-eat buffets.

‘The Package Holiday 1968-1985’ compiled by Jake Clark with photography by Trevor Clark is published by Hoxton Mini Press