The hypocrisy of Thomas Cook

By | Category: Travel rumblings

Thomas Cook is launching Love Local, a programme of in-resort activities designed to make a positive contribution to the destination.

All inclusive holidays
All inclusive holidays may not be beneficial for a destination.

It says that this policy has been driven by demand from customers and, therefore, it has created a range of experiences that will give holidaymakers the opportunity to meet local communities, learn about and take part in local traditions and ‘give something back’ (whatever that means)

It has initially designed 13 Love Local experiences in destinations including mainland Spain, Lanzarote, Gran Canaria, Mexico and Cuba. More will be added throughout the summer season with the aim of having 70 by summer 2020.

Thomas Cook says new research reveals that 40% of Britons are more likely to choose activities which benefit the local community in some way than they were 10 years ago. Half of holidaymakers are more likely to take a trip to a market to mingle with locals and support independent businesses than they were a decade ago and a third are more inclined to opt for experiences that feature local traditions.

The company says that in Reus in Spain, customers can cycle to explore old rustic villages, vineyards and olive groves and meet organic wine and olive growers. In Cuba, holidaymakers can visit a pineapple plantation and the village of Alcala to meet Cuban farmers and learn more about traditional coffee making before trying home grown fruits and other local cuisine.

But isn’t this just arranging attractions for their customers to enjoy?

Ok, at the end of the Cuban visit Thomas Cook customers can plant a tree in the community’s local forest if they so wish but that support is hardly overwhelming even if every customer did it.

But what of the company owned hotels that guests stay in? By selling rooms in their  own hotels (where the money is more than likely repatriated into the companies accounts in Germany rather than in the local economy)  as opposed to contracting with local hoteliers how does that contribute to “giving something back” which the company claims its customers want to do? What of the all-inclusive holidays they offer where the money that is spent by holidaymakers stays in the pockets of Thomas Cook rather than drifts into the local economy in restaurants and bars?

This year Thomas Cook says that 66% of all its holidays that it has sold are all-inclusives.

In some ways it is invidious to pick on Thomas Cook because other tour operators follow the same business plan, TUI for example, the other big tour operator in Europe.  But they have to learn that “giving something back” means more than tokenism and that the destinations they offer must also get the benefit of tourism in tangible and investment ways.

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