Opinion: Travel Convention puts all-inclusives in the sustainability spotlight

Opinion: Travel Convention puts all-inclusives in the sustainability spotlight

By Nikki White, head of destination sustainability at Abta

Next week I’ll be in Turkey at The Travel Convention, taking place at the all-inclusive Cornelia Diamond Golf Resort & Spa.

It will be the first time the Abta event has been held at an all-inclusive property, which is timely given the spotlight on all-inclusives over the past year.

For many years, there has been debate about whether such properties are a good thing. The decision by Tui Travel to reposition its First Choice product this year as a solely all-inclusive brand sharpened that discussion.

The focus of these debates has tended to be about the impact that these types of holidays have on destinations, such as whether all-inclusives discourage guests from spending money more widely in the destination. It has been a divisive subject.

However, when you look more deeply into the issues it’s not that black and white. Unfortunately, all-inclusives have often been an easy scapegoat.

This debate really best sits within a wider discussion about the potential positive and negative impacts of tourism and how to manage those effectively.

Why do all-inclusives get labelled as bad? There are a number of reasons, but the key ones centre on local jobs, salaries and the impact on the local area.

Many people argue that all-inclusives take away business and jobs from local communities as less money is being spent in resorts.

Yet, it’s been shown that some all-inclusive hotels employ up to 50% more employees than non-all-inclusive properties.

It has also been reported that guests take 20% more excursions when staying all-inclusive. And all-inclusive hotel staff are generally paid respectable salaries as determined by government, contrary to a perception that they are poorly paid.

In terms of impact on the local area, this really depends on the location.

In some destinations, all-inclusives do have the potential to have negative effects on other tourism businesses; however, in destinations such as the Caribbean, all-inclusive hotels have been the catalyst for tourism development, creating jobs and prosperity for locals.

Choosing an all-inclusive hotel that has a positive impact on the local destination and people was a major consideration when Abta selected the Cornelia.

Knowing that it had been awarded Travelife Gold made the decision more straightforward.

The hotel has a particularly strong commitment to developing its employees and sourcing food from local suppliers.

The key for retailers is to make sure you work with the properties that have these sort of values.

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