In recent years, the Greek islands have seen an ever-increasing number of ‘all inclusive holidays’ being offered by the major tour operators. Whilst I understand the attraction of the ‘all inclusive holiday’ for some, such as those with young children, they are sadly starting to have a detrimental and irreversible effect on the very essence of Greece as a holiday destination.
The negative results can be seen in more and more areas of the Greek islands, with Psalidi on Kos being a prime example. The road that runs parallel to Psalidi beach was once a vibrant area, with supermarkets, tavernas, restaurants, car-hire companies and much more. Now, there is just a line of monumental ‘all inclusive’ resort complexes and little else. Most of the independent businesses that used to prosper in the area have closed, as the resorts offer all the necessary services for their guests in-house. However, I have found that such things as hotel shops, car hire and tourist excursions tend to be more costly when compared to the same, or similar, offered by independent businesses in the local towns, as the hotels are well aware they have a captive audience!
Having visited Greece for over 30 years and for the last 11 years living on the island of Thassos, I believe that one of the most delightful experiences that Greece has to offer, is eating out. I have always found the quality and value for money at local tavernas and restaurants hard to beat, with the added bonus of dining al fresco in attractive surroundings. However, with ‘all inclusive’ holidays, you usually eat in the same restaurant, often at the same table and at designated times throughout your holiday. Yes, the value for money initially looks attractive and it is convenient, but I believe you miss out on a major part of what makes a holiday in Greece so special.
A further result of this trend and one of the main reasons that the tour operators are promoting this sector so heavily, is that a major proportion of the income from ‘all inclusives’ stays with them in the country where they are based and is therefore lost to the local Greek economy!
If you love the Greek islands and all their traditions as I do, or will be a first-time visitor in 2018, I would ask you to think twice about the type of holiday you desire and choose one that will offer you the fullest and most memorable experiences that these islands can truly provide.