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BRUSSELS (Reuters) - A Belgian tour operator is offering "sick notes" to families wanting to take their children on holiday before the end of the school term, in a tongue-in-cheek campaign that has drawn strong criticism from education authorities.
"We are handing out free sick notes for the last week of June as we believe families should be able to go on holiday for the lowest possible price," tour operator Neckermann said in a campaign launched on Sunday.
Trips to popular destinations are very often cheaper ahead of the official start of Belgian summer school holidays on July 1.
A spokesman for the travel group said it was clear the campaign was not meant seriously and Neckermann would not provide genuine sick notes.
But the advertising sparked an angry response from school authorities, with the Flemish education ministry looking at its legal options to end the campaign.
"This is in conflict with the agreements we have made with the travel sector. They can't just entice families to keep their children away from school," a ministry spokeswoman said.
Neckermann spokesman Koen Van den Bosch said the group had run similar campaigns in the past.
"We trust that parents know what is wrong and what is right for their children," he said.
Reporting by Robert-Jan Bartunek, editing by Rex Merrifield and Paul Casciato