It’s a fact – the future of local trade in Cyprus has been seriously affected by all-inclusive.
Let’s face it, the attempt to become a world leader in mass tourism by encouraging all-inclusive in Cyprus, has resulted in this beautiful island becoming a byword for a shabby ghetto of neon and peeling concrete, with local restaurants, tavernas and shops closing.
I remember in the ’80s and ’90s you would meet all sorts of interesting travellers, supporting local businesses and restaurants and venturing out of their way to visit local village tavernas, serving authentic Cypriot food and experiencing the Island’s branding image “warm Cypriot hospitality”.
They were genuinely interested in the charm and natural delights of Cyprus.
Now, in the hotels, the low-paid labour force, mainly from the Eastern bloc, have no clue about Cyprus and what it offers to inform foreign visitors.
I am sure the majority of the all-inclusive visitors care only about what is on the buffet tonight or how many drinks can be consumed in a day – all part of their “exploit the great deal mission”.
What began as a way of attracting more tourists to an island that was packed to the hilt every summer with holiday makers, mainly from Britain, has resulted in a bacchanalian orgy of disrespect.
“All-inclusive is simply no good for Cyprus rural tourism,” says Sofronios Potamitis representing the Cyprus Villages organisation.
Rather than concentrate on visitors who are interested in the Agrotourist aspect of the regions, the hoteliers in the mid ’90s made the decision to attract lower class all-inclusive tourism.
The last 20 years have seen a slow rise in all-inclusive hotel packages in Cyprus, resulting in a downfall in quality tourism. All-inclusive deals were popularised by the rise of the package holiday in the 1970s. Tour Operators now sell 65% of holiday packages as all-inclusive and it’s on the rise.
So what fat-cats get more cream? The large travel agents decided to exploit the concept of all-inclusive to maximise on their profits. In the main, travel agents have the travellers’ money at least six weeks prior to the holiday. Previously, the policy was for the travel agents and hoteliers to have the share of the flight and accommodation and for the local restaurants, bars and shops to have the spending money from visitors. With all-inclusive, the travel agent receives all.
Travel agents paying hotels on average two months after the visitor departs has caused a further blow to the industry’s survival. Often too, travel companies register complaints to delay payment and some have been known to close their company and open another one, leaving a substantial debt to hotel owners who are obligated to pay the costs and taxes.
Who suffers? First of all, the all-inclusive visitors who leave without experiencing the real Cyprus. Then the owners of tourist businesses and restaurants and the hotel owners who suffer from a cash flow crisis due to travel firms not paying promptly, if at all.
There’s no loyalty here. Most hotel owners accept all-inclusive demands from travel agents because they have no option. If Cyprus did stop all-inclusive, they would move on to promote the next country who does – it’s that plain and simple!