St John's All-Inclusive Holidays And Sustainable Tourism
All-inclusive holidays provide an affordable break for families on a budget, and they provide employment for local people. On the other hand, they do not share tourism revenues with surrounding communities, and often deny local resources and attractions to locals. Gambia 9n Africa) has recently attempted to ban all inclusive holidays in its country.
The first all-inclusive holidays were started in the 1950s with Club Med offering affordable travel to Majorca and Corfu to Europeans. Since then, many competitors have sprung up, including many major tour operators and even hotel chains which have developed custom built resorts. Travellers pay the tour operator in advance for everything from sports, activities, kids clubs as well as food & drink. Many visitors can stay without bringing any money with them.
What's wrong with all-inclusives?
Tourists who have paid for everything in advance stay at a self-contained resort with its own restaurants, bars and entertainment and therefore have little incentive to leave the resort and see the surrounding community, in any local natural or cultural heritage sites. The tour company (typically owned offshore) rakes in most of the tourist's cash, leaving little for the local community and its residents. Vacationers consume vast quantities of energy (to get there, and use in providing first-class accommodation and amenities) and water (significantly more than the locals, and golf resorts divert massive amounts of water from local agriculture), create significant amounts of waste, and jobs for locals only at the lowest levels at the resorts.
In the Caribbean, many all-inclusives are unpopular with locals who are barred from beaches, which are exclusively reserved for tourists, and protected by security guards. As well, tourists are often warned about the security threat posed by local people and advised to say in resorts, creating an over-cautious "bunker mentality".
Some hotel workers live in cramped conditions, barely earned a living wage, and working long hours. Typically the locals get the most menial jobs, while expatriates take the best paid management positions.
What's good about all-inclusives?
These resorts provide affordable and safe family holidays to countries most would usually not ever visit on their own. All-inclusive resorts have the infrastructure to handle significant numbers of tourists, and can offset cultural impacts of tourism by containing tourists in the resorts.
Many resorts are working to improve the wages and working conditions of local people in resorts. These resorts create many new jobs and training opportunities in areas and countries the highest unemployment in the world. Many of these jobs are regarded as better than those provided by established local businesses.
All inclusives also support local farmers by buying much of the food and produce locally. They also promote and encourage tours of the community by local people, and provide a venue for local craft vendors in the hotel free of cost (this is typically done one night of a one-week stay). Resorts also hire local musicians, and dancers for nightly guest entertainment. Most resorts offer positions to qualified local persons whenever possible, and train staff for promotion to more senior positions.
Evaluate your resort and your tour operator to ensure they are carrying out sustainable and community-minded practices at all-inclusive resorts.