Published on Tuesday, May 1, 2012

All Inclusives: still the devils work?

Debate that refuses to lie down resuscitated by Tourism Concern and BBC

Under new leadership, Tourism Concern has again hit on the all-inclusive situation. In its latest campaign "All Inclusives remain all exclusive" The practice called "the devil's" work by leading travel writer Simon Calder in the BBC website is finding it impossible to lose the negative label.

Under the title: "What does the resurgence of the all-inclusive model, where tourists are invited to "leave their wallets at home", mean for the destinations we visit? Tourism Concern highlights the inequities in 7 destinations saying that the practice leads to loss of local business, massive leakage in tourism spend, least community economic benefit, dramatic differences between locals and tourists, harassment of tourists, restaurant closures and more. They say that:

  • In Majorca - all-inclusive holidays blamed for loss of local businesses. In September 2011 local businesses organised a day of protest against the all-inclusive hotels
  • In Turkey - research found only 10% of tourist spend from all-inclusive holidays found its way into local economy
  • In Mombasa, Kenya - World Bank states all-inclusive beach holidays contributed the least economic benefit
  • In Kenya - 87% of tourists go on all-inclusive holidays and yet over half of local people live on less than 1$ a day
  • In Jamaica - all-inclusive hotels attracted tourists in the short term but blocked development of other types of tourism, leading to increased tourist harassment (vi)
  • In Dominican Republic - all-inclusive holidays blamed for restaurant closures and increased negative attitude towards tourists
  • In Goa, India - "enclave tourism", local taxis and guides losing business to all-inclusive resorts

The BBC Breakfast segment  interviewed all-inclusive holidaymakers who, having paid an inclusive charge were unwilling to explore destinations and interviewed a representative of First Choice, the major UK tour operator and member of the TUI group who are now 100% all-inclusive.

Citing the market need for the move to all-inclusives Nick Longman of First Choice said that the company was investigating the possibility of "Dine Around" programmes.

Said Sue Hurdle, chief executive, The Travel Foundation: "Like every other type of holiday, All-inclusive can have both positive and negative economic, environmental and social impacts, depending on a range of factors. What the Travel Foundation has found in its most recent research is that few of these are exclusively to do with board basis, but a combination of factors, which includes management and tourist motivations."

"We should seize this opportunity to discuss the economic impacts of tourism overall, and recognise where and how improvements can be made to make sure every type of holiday becomes more sustainable. For example, hotels in remote locations, or those hosting visitors seeking relaxation, could look at implementing local produce-sourcing policies, introducing "dine-around" schemes or hosting craft markets for local artisans. "

"Agents also have a distinct role to play, by educating customers to encourage them to get out and explore, try new things and learn about the destination before they go, which will help to improve both their own experience and the impact of their trip."

Last year TotemTourism held a masterclass "Can all inclusives be sustainable" it"s worth a read and a watch.

There are three major players in the all-inclusive industry: Club Med (very upmarket, iconoclastic and politically aware), Sandals (a local Caribbean company with a charitable foundation and mainly US tourists) and, now First Choice catering to the European market.

The masterclass conclusion was clear - all-inclusives place the tourist wallet and marketing connection very clearly within the tour operator"s influence - to whose generosity the destination community must then appeal.

If you are a destination tourism supplier, this is clearly unsatisfactory, but as tour operators have the marketing power, there is little that they can do but ask politely.

Not a happy situation for destinations many of whom have also to deal with the arch all-inclusive activity - cruises.

The Green Tourism/TotemTourism Sustainable Destination Report 2011 will have a complete section on dealing with all-inclusive variations - reserve a pre-publication review copy at a 50% discount by emailing [email protected] with the subject line "Sustainable Destination Report 2011 review copy"

Get involved in the Travel Foundation"s Make Holidays Greener consumer awareness campaign in July - find out how at:

Valere Tjolle
Keep up with the latest sustainable tourism info, special offers HERE


Story Image

Your Comments

, be the first to post a comment.
Your email:

Email other comments made to this story
Code Request a new picture 5 characters

NOTE: Comments are subject to admin approval before being posted.
Mole Poll
Drinking limitation at UK airports - Good idea ?
YES 67.92 %
NO 32.08 %

Thank you for your vote

Move scroll bar (above) left to right for more videos!

Sponsored features

Delivering a seamless customer experience

Great Customer Experience can have a huge impact on a company's bottom line, and it starts with understanding your customer's expectations at each stage of the buying process.