Relaxing on a beach chair by the pool with a cocktail in hand, which is already included in the price: for many people this is the ultimate relaxing holiday. After weeks of hard work, it is time to enjoy your holiday without too much hassle. You pay one price for hotel and return flight and that’s it, you can start enjoying yourself without unexpected costs. This form of tourism is one of the most popular forms, in early 2020, 50% of Dutch travelers had booked an all-inclusive trip (NBTC, 2020).
However, all-inclusive resorts are currently also one of the least sustainable forms of spending the night at the holiday destination. Tourists often spend little or no time outside of the resort’s “bubble”, which means that local shops, restaurants and bars outside the resort benefit little or not at all from this type of tourism. In addition, large all-inclusive resorts often have foreign owners, which means that even less money goes to the local population of the respective country. In addition, the food served in the resorts is often largely imported in bulk from other countries.
However, all-inclusive hotels can also offer benefits to destinations. In overcrowded destinations, it could be advantageous if tourists stay more in their own bubble at the holiday resort. This removes the hustle and bustle from the streets and provides more peace and quiet for the local population. Another advantage is that the planes that carry these types of tourists are often from budget airlines, which often have a younger fleet. Newer aircraft are a lot more fuel efficient compared to aircraft from an older fleet (Kras, 2016).
Although fuel consumption is more efficient in budget flights that are primarily intended for transport to all-inclusive resorts, more needs to be done to make all-inclusive resorts more sustainable. Fortunately, many initiatives have already been launched in various countries to initiate this process. An example of this is the Ikos Resorts: 60% of their food products are locally sourced and they work with local suppliers to offer their own brand of olive oil, honey and wine. For more information about Ikos Resorts, click here. This is beneficial not only for the locals who make money from this, but also for the visitors to these resorts, because fresh, locally produced food is much better than imported food, isn’t it? In addition to offering locally sourced food, all-inclusive resorts can also support local initiatives, in addition to offering tours to the main tourist sites. Collaborations between small sustainable tourism projects and all-inclusive resorts also improve the image of the company.
There are already some all-inclusive resorts where sustainability is of paramount importance. For example, Calista Hotel in Belek (Turkey) has taken several actions to be more sustainable: protection of turtles nesting there on the beach, recycling, encouraging guests to use public transport and donating what is left over to a food bank. For more information about sustainable projects of this resort, click here.
Another example is the Sandos Caracol Eco Resort in Mexico. This resort has been awarded Rainforest Alliance verification for years in a row. This is because they work with the local Mayan communities and offer eco-activities for guests such as biking in the jungle and swimming in a cenote. In addition, they have animal rescue and repopulation programs. For more information on why they can call themselves an eco-resort, click here.
In conclusion, all-inclusive resorts are not always necessarily bad for the locals and the environment. When these resorts take good initiatives like the ones mentioned above, this type of holiday can also be a sustainable holiday. If you plan on booking a holiday to an all-inclusive resort in the future, do some research and see what the resort is doing to be sustainable!