Opinion: Industry must examine real cost of all-inclusives

Opinion: Industry must examine real cost of all-inclusives

By Victoria Sanders, managing director of Teletext Holidays.

A couple of weeks ago I returned from a fantastic week away in Tenerife. The deal was a five-star week on an all-inclusive basis – and a very good deal it was too.

I’m always astonished at the value an all-inclusive holiday provides and it brings it home more when you experience it first hand.

The evening meal at the hotel was as good as any I’ve had in any decent restaurant at home. So it’s not surprising that there’s been an even bigger shift towards all-inclusive holidays during the economic downturn as Britons continue to seek value-for-money breaks and plan their budgets.

The real cost of all-inclusives

In fact, I got some new stats through this week that show more than 52% of all holiday searches on the Teletext Holidays site are for all-inclusive trips, a 10% rise since last year – and more than double what it was five years ago. But I worry that the trend for all-inclusive holidays is coming at a cost.

As we wandered through the resort of Costa Adeje it struck me just how many local restaurant and bar owners were struggling for business. The buzz created by people out and about in the resort enjoying the atmosphere in lively cafes and bars was more subdued than I’ve ever seen it before.

The local businesses simply can’t compete with the hotels offering all-inclusive holidays.

But they are trying so hard to attract holidaymakers with big discounts on drinks and new entertainment. I saw lots of signs advertising beer for €1 or eating out for under €8. But how sustainable is it to keep offering such low prices to draw people in?

Support the local economy

We made a real point of going out and about and although we were on an all-inclusive deal we also ate out a couple of nights. But the same can’t be said for everyone.

While we can’t blame people for wanting all-inclusive deals, as an industry we need to consider our responsibility to the destinations we send people to.

The travel industry is the livelihood of so many people around the world. A healthy and thriving local economy that offers a diverse range of entertainment, shopping and sightseeing is what makes a holiday fun and memorable for so many of us.

No one wants to visit an area that feels like a ghost town because the local bars and restaurants have shut down through lack of tourist trade. I’m concerned that we aren’t talking about the impact of the all-inclusive trend on local economies enough.

I’d like to see more resorts working collaboratively with local businesses to send customers their way – to offer meals out in local restaurants as part of the all-inclusive deal, for example, or invitations to music nights.

We also need bolder communication with customers. Without their support the life and soul of these holiday resorts will disappear.

We all have a responsibility in these times of austerity.


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