Debate on the subject of all inclusive holidays to the island has raged over the last couple of years, and it’s something I’ve been following closely.
The two most common subjects raised are that:
A/ People on all inclusive holidays stay in their accommodation and never come out and spend money in the island’s businesses
B/ That “they” should ban all inclusive (I assume “they” is the Lanzarote or Canarian government)
As a counterpoint, I though it might be worth sharing my own thoughts on these two points.
Do people stay in their accommodation and not come out?
I’m sure some do, but I’m equally sure the majority don’t. When our family was young, we stayed all inclusive for a few of our holidays. We treated it as a way to control costs, to make sure we had enough to hire a car and visit the area. Freed from having to keep budget to one side for kid’s ice creams and drinks, we were happy to spend money elsewhere. And we also went out to eat in the evenings, and enjoyed local bars, because we soon got bored eating in the hotel buffet. We may not have spent as much in the bars, because we’d had a few “personality boosters” before heading out, but where we found a great local bar, perhaps with good entertainment, we were very happy to patronise it.
And I see evidence of this in Lanzarote – wherever I travel, to markets, to bars and restaurants and to the island’s attractions, I see people with their all inclusive tags. So that suggests they’re not actually hiding away, doesn’t it?
There was one interesting thread on this debate recently where someone was raging: “All inclusive is killing the island. Everywhere I go on the island, I see people wearing those annoying little wrist bands.” He didn’t pick up the irony that if he’s seeing them “everywhere” those people must be out and about enjoying, and probably spending money, all over the island.
Should all inclusive be banned?
I’m not sure how you’d go about banning it, to be honest, without restricting a company’s right to devise their own business model. And where do you stop if you ban hotels from offering all inclusive, because some people feel it harms the island’s business? I think we’re getting into dangerous territory if we start to legislate certain aspects of business to protect others.
Do we then ban €1.95 breakfasts because they provide unfair competition? Do we ban tourists from buying booze in local supermarkets because they should be drinking in bars?
The other question we have to ask is this. Would the people who are coming here on AI holidays come to Lanzarote if they couldn’t have AI? Sure, there are probably some who choose Lanzarote and then book a holiday, but there must be many who simply want to book a hassle free fixed budget holiday. If that’s the case, then the business is probably incremental – we’re getting new visitors, we wouldn’t get if AI were banned. So surely it’s incumbent on us to do our best to “convert” them to being Lanzarote lovers?
What’s the solution?
I think the reality is that a certain amount of all inclusive tourism is here to stay. I can’t imagine it ever being banned, and as a business person it would worry me if government tried to intervene in that way in what should be a free market.
Instead of seeing AI as a threat, maybe it’s time to treat it as an opportunity. If you have a business you think is threatened by AL, how about:
What are your thoughts?
How can we make more of the AI tourism that we have on the island?