With holidaymakers still reigning in spending, demand for all-inclusive holidays has reached a peak in key source markets. But could bringing this concept to Dubai damage the destination forever?
All-inclusive holidays are a hot topic at the moment. First Choice Holidays, one of the UK’s biggest travel operators announced last month that in 2012 it plans to offer only all-inclusive holiday options to customers.
Packages will include all flights, transfers, accommodation, three daily meals and unlimited local drinks in one price.
According to First Choice, popularity among British holidaymakers for all-inclusive holidays has rocketed since the recession (60% of First Choice holidays were all-inclusive in 2010).
“All-inclusive is becoming the holiday of choice for many British consumers, offering them great value for money. People can leave their wallets at home and relax — they don’t have to worry about spending money when they’re abroad,” said Johan Lundgren, UK and Ireland managing director of First Choice’s parent company Tui.
The UK operator is now working with hotels and resorts to help them convert to an all-inclusive offering.
But while the demand from holidaymakers is clearly there — the UK is after all the number one market for tourists to Dubai — the Dubai market has so far been resistant to adopting the all-inclusive model, due to fears that it will dent profit for hotels, damage the overall image of Dubai as an exclusive and luxury destination, not to mention hurt the local economy.
Some Dubai hotels are catering to customer demand and rolling with the concept. MÖvenpick’s Royal Amwaj on Palm Jumeirah — which is scheduled to open later this year has revealed it will be offering an all-inclusive option.
Director of sales and marketing for the resort Andrew Hughes said: “If the customer wants that then why fight the demand?
“I think there’s absolutely room for the all-inclusive concept in Dubai as long as you’re giving customers choice and you’re positioning it as a premium product — not an exclusion-based product.
So if a customer buys that experience, if they want to eat lobster in the à la carte restaurant they can. If they want three drinks at the pool at lunchtime they can. It’s about giving that customer the choice and we intend to roll that out.”
According to Hughes it is a “misnomer” that all-inclusive properties are not profitable.
“I think it hasn’t happened here in Dubai because historically F&B has been such an important element in these resorts’ budget lines, and the fear is that if we go all-inclusive would we lose all that revenue. It’s going to take a new hotel to come in to show the value to see how effective it is and then others will follow suit.”