As I take a stroll up the Main Street in Alykanas on the island of Zakynthos, I can’t help but notice how quiet it is this year.
At risk of sounding like ‘those people’ who holiday at the same resort every year, I have been coming to Alykanas for the last 3 years. What can I say? The weather is beautiful, it’s relaxing and I’ve come to know many of the locals.
Initially I thought that maybe it’s quieter because it’s relatively early in the season, but I got the impression that maybe this wasn’t entirely the case. Having spoken to several business owners, they all tell me that their bars and restaurants are suffering because of the rise of the all inclusive resorts in the town. But surely one or two all inclusive hotels won’t make that much of a difference? Well, maybe they can.
In resorts like Alykanas, competition is high for tourists’ trade. There are too many restaurants and bars for one person to comfortably visit in a week but I haven’t seen any close down (yet). In fact several businesses have been renovated, yet they are disturbingly quiet. And it’s not just me who has noticed it. Lots of other holiday makers can be heard making the same comments.
Don’t get me wrong – an all inclusive holiday can be a God send to a lot of families. They can save all year and know that they don’t have to keep dipping into their wallets when the kids want another ice cream or drink. And if they are anything like me, the bar bill ends up forming the bulk of the holiday’s cost. They’re also great in places like Egypt, where there’s nothing around you but endless desert, the food is shite, you need to constantly be near to the toilet and the locals hassle you to buy their substantial range of fakeries. But this isn’t Egypt, it’s Greece, where the food is great, the people are friendly and touching the money won’t give you explosive diarrhoea for a week.
If local people hadn’t invested so much time and money into turning their quiet towns into popular resorts, the all inclusive operators wouldn’t be here in the first place. And if the all inclusives mean that local bars, restaurants and tours start closing down it will be the all inclusive holiday makers who will complain that there’s nothing to do.
So maybe if you are on an all inclusive holiday, think about spending the odd night out at a local restaurant or bar – if only to escape the monotony of the all inclusive buffet!
UPDATE: The original image accompanying the article was of Danny’s hotel (which is NOT all inclusive). I only used that photo because we are staying here and love it. Apologies for any confusion!