From the Big Issue in the North magazine, please buy a copy when you see a seller.
They give British customers cheap, affordable holidays at a fixed budget but all-inclusive holidays are increasingly offering no benefit to the host nations. So says Steve Reed, MP for Croydon North, who recently hosted a Parliamentary launch of a new report into the impact of all-inclusive hotels on working conditions and labour rights in Kenya, Tenerife and Barbados.
In 2013, Tourism Concern, supported by the International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers’ Associations (IUF), started researching the impact of all- inclusives on hotel workers’ pay, working conditions and labour rights.
All-inclusive holidays, in which food, drink and entertainment are included in the price, have soared in popularity as holidaymakers with less money to spend seek to keep their spending levels down. More than a third of package holidays are now all- inclusive and bookings rose 14 per cent last year.
But there has been heavy criticism that local economies are failing to benefit from all- inclusives because the operator in the host country retains profits and visitors spend little outside the hotel complex where they are staying. A World Bank investigation found that in Kenya, tourist spending finding its way into the local economy was just 22.8 per cent. This figure includes Mombasa, where most holidays are all-inclusive and where the local population survives on less than 60 pence a day.
The Tourism Concern report found that workers in all-inclusive hotels faced less favourable working conditions compared with their colleagues in other hotels. Workers were on shorter contracts, worked longer hours, were paid less, had fewer training opportunities and also received fewer tips.
Stress levels were also greater due to more prolonged contact with guests. Female employees were further handicapped due to a lack of equal opportunities, with fewer chances of being promoted. There were also reports of bullying of staff. Encouragingly, there was little evidence of child labour.
Workers in all-inclusive hotels reported being much less satisfied than other hotel workers. A worker in Kenya told researchers: “Most of the time you work until you feel as if you are going to collapse.”
Unions in each country undertook the collection of the data for the report. Many of the hotel workers, especially in Kenya, are in a union and there has been some progress in establishing collective bargaining agreements with tourist companies. These include minimum terms and conditions of service, and dispute settlement procedures.
Many workers in Kenya and Tenerife however felt that the agreements were not being fully implemented.
The authors of the Tourism Concern report said: “European tour operators are accountable for the actions and policies of their supply chain – including economic, social and environmental standards. Labour standards must be addressed as part of the wider social responsibility agenda.’
Reed, a shadow Home Office minister, said he hosted the Commons meeting that launched the report “because increasingly, all-inclusive tourist resorts offer no benefit at all to the area where they are located”.
He added: “Sustainable managed tourism allows visitors to experience the culture of their hosts. Local communities benefit from the money tourists spend on food, entertainment and shopping. This is not happening with all-inclusive resorts.
“Now we find workers at these resorts endure worse working conditions than elsewhere. These are important issues that need addressing.”
Accor, the world’s leading hotel manager with nearly 3,500 hotels in 92 countries, did not respond to requests for comment.