We get it. Sometimes it’s easier to just book a package holiday rather than travel independently. I mean, everything is there! Your flights, accommodation, meals, even the swimming pool is included. But did you know that package holidays, especially all-inclusive resorts tend to be some of the worst offenders when it comes to sustainable travel? To answer why, let’s look at this subject a little more closely.
To begin the process, you’re likely looking at a little slice of paradise. A pristine environment, vibrant local communities, and perhaps even indigenous people. When all of a sudden, a motion for a new resort is introduced. It passes, and next thing you know, that paradise is lost and construction of hotels, parking lots, swimming pools, and countless other facilities begin to take rise. Furthermore, those locals and indigenous people are now displaced, and the environment wrecked. To top things off, the resort may be built with very little regard for traditional architecture.
Once the resort is up and running and foreigners start coming through, the process continues. First, catering to foreigners often has adverse effects on local traditions. You might find that you’re in a foreign country, but it might feel exactly like home (or rather, staying at a fancy hotel back home). Traditional cultures are often lost at all-inclusive resorts. You are, after all, surrounded by other tourists and not locals. This can deprive you of a truly authentic cultural experience. Then there’s demand for natural resources, such as water and energy. This demand for swimming pools, showers, daily laundry, and power for your TV’s and air-conditioners can put such immense pressure on local resources that it actually begins to take away from local communities and people.
And because your package holiday is all-inclusive, you have very little incentive to venture outside the resort. This keeps your travel dollars inside the resort and acts as profit for large multinational corporations; as oppose to small, local shops and restaurants that would truly benefit from your travel dollars. According to the UNEP (UN Environment Programme), when booking a package holiday, 80% of a traveler’s money goes to airlines, hotels and other international companies, and not to local businesses or workers. They go on and state that “All-inclusive hotels generate the most revenue but the impact on the economy is smaller per dollar of revenue than other accommodation subsectors”. We call this "Economic Leakage", the process in which a country receives little to no money (or possibly even occurs losses) due to the tourism industry.
So if package holidays and all-inclusive resorts are so terrible, what are the alternatives? Here at FairAway, we are continuing to build our partnerships with fantastic eco-lodges and hotels, owned and operated by locals or by companies that give back to local communities. Most will offer what the big resorts have, but do so in a way that’s more environmentally friendly. Other benefits include experiencing the culture more authentically than you would in a resort, knowing that your travel dollars are going to an independently owned business, and that the hotel will often try to mitigate its resource consumption.
We believe that sustainable travel doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice your safety or comforts. In fact, sustainable travel may even enhance the experience. So next time you’re in the mood to travel to a tropical paradise, we hope you’ll consider a well-rated and wonderful eco-hotel or lodge instead.