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First Choice Defend Decision

TUI UK has defended its decision for First Choice to only sell all-inclusive holidays following criticism that it goes against the company’s policies as an environmentally friendly operator.

The company announced recently that from summer 2012, their First Choice division will sell only all-inclusive package holidays following a trend towards this kind of holiday and to meet budget conscious holidaymakers’ needs.

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The move has been met by disapproval from media sources claiming only the company’s shareholders will benefit and the economy of destinations around the world that rely on tourists spending money whilst in resort will seriously suffer.

The Association of Independent Tour Operators (AITO) has slammed the decision stating it would be ‘extremely disappointing’ for many countries. AITO chairman Derek Moore stated “The First Choice announcement is good for the budget-conscious tourist, disinterested and incurious about their destination and who cares little or nothing for their host country.” He continued “This means a local restaurant outside the gates of the all-inclusive hotel might as well put up the ‘closed’ sign right now, which is a sad state of affairs.”

AITO is not in the market for the same customers but claims it is extremely disappointed that First Choice are suggesting holidaymakers have no need to spend money when abroad.

Christian Gull, communications director for TUI UK and Ireland has dismissed the clams, stating “It is a myth to suggest that people do not go out of the hotel, just because they’re on an all-inclusive holiday. As a holiday company we encourage people to go on local excursions and explore all the destination has to offer. We are doing a lot of work in this area to increase communications with customers whilst they’re on holiday, encouraging them to use local services.” He also added that at many of the flagship resorts they are setting up excursions to give guests the opportunity to get a real taste of the region they are visiting, and are also working with experts to see how all-inclusive holidays can benefit local communities.

Gull also pointed out that TUI were one of the first operators to commit to the Holidays Forever programme having pledged to make sure 90% of its hotels meet the strict ABTA backed sustainability standards by 2014.

Environmentalists and those fighting the cause for sustainability are not convinced however and Moore concluded that the switch was a ‘massive blow’ to sustainability and ignored the “moral aspect to a holiday where you give something back to your host community rather than simply contribute to the coffers of a holidays giant.”