Is Package Tourism Ruining The World?

I recently had a discussion with my parents about what they would like to do with their upcoming retirement and travel seemed to be top of the agenda. One thing that struck me though throughout the whole conversation was that even though they have a curiosity and interest for other countries and cultures, they have always flocked towards package holiday type deals in the past, and didn’t seem to have any intention on changing. Whether it was a cheap break to Spain, or further afield in places like Mauritius, my parents always opt for those “never leave the hotel” type deals, as do many other people across the world. It’s a concept I find very hard to relate to as for me those types of deals are not only bad for the local economy of each country, but also not really an experience of any culture, and only posses as an example of how richer nations exploit those around them.

The irony of all this is that I recently wrote a post on Is There Such A Thing As A Travel Snob, and how I dislike those who disregard any particular style of travel as lesser than that of their own. Yet only a few days later I found myself explaining to my parents how their style of travel was not good, and now I am torn between the realities that maybe I am a travel snob myself as I see the way in which they travel as completely ignorant.

When I look at package tourism all I see is people who don’t want to make an effort, don’t care about what they experience as long as they get some good holiday snaps and a sun tan. Almost all of the money made at those large chain hotels is sent back to places like the states or the UK, and the local staff is paid a pittance of a wage. I understand that people who go on these holidays are seeking a bit of luxury or a short escapism from the 9 to 5 back home, but I don’t think half of them have even realised that all those people who cleaned their room, cooked their food, drove them around etc, all probably earn less in a year than they do in a week. They also probably don’t realise that by them taking an all inclusive deal and staying at their hotel for all their food and entertainment they are contributing even less to the local economy and to the local people. Yet even when it seems they are aware, most of them don’t seem willing to make just a few simple changes to help make their travel more sustainable and better for the country involved.

In saying all of this, I also realise I am not the perfect traveller. Although I have never booked a package holiday type deal, and my travel is more long term, I know I have shown ignorance at times in the past by relying on people to speak English (I now no longer do this and I’m in the process of learning another language), and in the beginning I stayed at large chain hostels when I was first starting out. I’m sure there are probably a lot of things I could improve on as far as sustainability, but I’d like to think that I am improving, learning, and trying my best (at least recently anyway) to travel in a way that contributes to a local economy and in a way in which I think is respectful to the local communities through which I pass.

I understand with a lot of these package tourism deals that value for money comes into play. A lot of people, especially those who don’t necessarily have the biggest pay check in the world, see these as an opportunity to have a cheap break that they feel would otherwise not have been available to them, but I’m here to say that there are other options available. I’ve travelled in the past on a shoe-string budget, and had great experiences. So maybe I’m a long term traveller and maybe it is a different thing to a standard holiday, but all it takes is a little more time and effort and you can get a fantastic culturally rewarding holiday that is also respectful to the local people.

If there is such a thing as a travel snob then maybe I am one, I don’t know. Saying package tourism is ruining the world may be a tad over dramatic, but it certainly doesn’t help it. I don’t see anyone who goes on a package holiday as any less or better a person or traveller than me, but I can’t pretend I like it. I think it’s important for people to look beyond these deals and see what they are really doing, and I would encourage anyone thinking of booking another one of these holidays to take a look at some of the alternatives. There is a whole array of choices out there that you just can’t experience through package tourism.

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3 Responses to “Is Package Tourism Ruining The World?”

  1. Ross says:

    I see you have an up and coming trip to Morocco. Quite a package tourist destination. Hope you will be keeping your high morales and paying over the odd’s to compensate the people who ignore the wages of the locals.

    When you go to a bar in Edinburgh does it bother you that the waitress that is serving you is on a pittance which is in comparasion to the poor wages abroad.

    I kinda get what your getting at in this blog, the headline is extreme (but I like a bit of extremism) and there is alot more to the package holiday than two weeks in benidorm. Pick up any of the broadsheets and a sunday and you will see package holiday trips to far away exotic places like China or South America. I respect those people more than someone who booked a RyanAir flight on there own.

    The only danger travel is to the world is to the enviroment and my carbon foot print is a lot higher than a couple who nip over to the Costa Del Sol twice a year. Perhaps that would be a better idea for a blog. Backpackers consience? As you know Im a peace loving veggie hippy you loves the fluffy animals and recycles. But do I give it a second thought when I book my flights to India?

  2. Ross says:

    p.s your site looks really good. Well done.

  3. jane says:

    @Ross
    You have a good point. When I wrote this post though I think I had a particular type of package holiday in mind (I was also having a bad day! 🙂 ), and i’m not suggesting we stop package holidays altogher, just make a few simple changes to make them more beneficial for the local country but still value for money for the customer.

    I mention in the blog that the title is maybe a tad over dramatic, but over dramatic makes people listen, and I don’t know how to operate without reaching to extremes.

    I’m all for saving money. I don’t think people should pay more just for the sake of it or more than the locals would. My upcoming trip to Morocco will be independant, but also on a budget. My problem is primarily with people who barely leave the hotel, and also companies that take the money back to head offices in places like the states or uk. If the money was simply re-invested in the country it was made I would have no problem whatsoever.

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