Saturday, August 18, 2007

This Here’s The Rubber Duck

Curious. Silly season. During the annual Mare de Deu d’Agost fiesta in Can Picafort, they “free” rubber ducks. Those wacky Mallorcan traditions. From what I can make out, the rubber ducks have replaced live birds. However, not everyone seems to accept this. Consequently, there has been a fair old rumpus because some “masked men” let go some live ducks this year - illegally. Apparently the poor old plod were unable to identify these masked men as they were busy on traffic duty. Still, there’s a photo in the paper that might help them.

Following on from the piece about all-inclusives of 16 August, I got an email from Anne Marie. Here’s what she had to say:

“On the subject of all-inclusives, I think they're bad. I can see your point about good value for the family limited to August, kids to cater for etc, but isn't it very limiting to be stuck in the same place day in, day out? Personally, I think it would be something akin to torture having to eat in the same surroundings with the same people all the time. Surely part of the holiday experience is to get out and about, try different restaurants, shop in the markets for lovely fresh fruit and veg etc?”

As I said in my reply to Anne Marie, I agree wholeheartedly. I try very hard to be fair to all-inclusives and to those holidaymakers who love them. If you go back over the months you will find that my views of all-inclusives have moderated. At one time, I considered them to be the devil’s work, but I have had so many people advance their advantages that I have changed my opinion. But only in the sense that I can recognise well the financial benefits. Otherwise I stand by what I have always believed - that a place with a decent infrastructure, a place that is safe, a place that is not remote does not need all-inclusives. And I certainly agree with Anne Marie that the holiday experience should involve getting out and about.

There is a lot of emotion surrounding all-inclusives. Local businesses detest them because they harm trade. Many a holidaymaker defends them with a passion. It is not true that all people staying at all-inclusives never leave the premises or never try a different restaurant or bar. But a number do rarely venture out. And even those who do go out, are not eating out every evening. Why would they?

The all-inclusive has become something of a pejorative, not only because of the effects on local trade, but also because of some of the clientele. Stories of bad behaviour at certain all-inclusives here are legion. Not everyone is badly behaved, not everyone gets pissed all day every day, not everyone lets their kids run riot. But some do. Not every hotel with an all-inclusive offer gets a bad press.

I try to be even-handed. In a wider sense, the all-inclusive is a form of change, a form of market-driven change, market-driven change within the holiday industry. The problem is how does the local market adapt, faced as it is by this change. No-one has a good answer, because - short of just shrugging shoulders or giving up - there is no good answer. The market power in this market change resides with the tour operators and, to a lesser extent, the hoteliers. The local trader is impotent. This may all be free-market economics (which I am inherently in agreement with), but this particular market is out of balance.

If anyone has differing views, I would be delighted to hear them. If you support all-inclusives or if you don’t, let me know.

Yesterday - The Doors, “Riders On The Storm”. Today - the title comes from a dreadful record. Who did it and what was it called?


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