Harriet Walker: Spare us the guilt over all-inclusives

Share
Related Topics

At the risk of sounding facile, I think we all need a holiday. Just one day out of life, as Madonna has it, to decompress and condense some of the frustrated steam of hatred that has arisen from some of our most disadvantaged communities.

In a culture that foregrounds 24-7 working hours and the need to accrue wealth rather than borrow time, the universal bank holidays and bus trips to Blackpool of yesteryear have become an idyllic anachronism. But then so too have the stretched recesses and Grand Tour-style breaks at the other end of the spectrum. And we have accepted the death of the latter, without questioning the validity of the former.

Thomas Cook announced this week that almost half of its profits this year came from all-inclusive holidays, which have gone through the roof as holidaymakers seek better value. But there's a general culture of "ick" when it comes to these kinds of package deals, and a crazed sense of moral superiority among those who don't go on them.

Instead of travel for the sake of getting away and forgetting one's workaday existence, we're supposed to travel now for the sake of becoming more worldly-wise. This makes sense when one is backpacking in the Himalayas, less so than when you just want to lie on a beach in Torremolinos.

There's nothing wrong with going somewhere pleasant and doing very little. It makes us less crabby when we get back, it helps us put up with the rigours of existing in a world where everything just seems – at the moment, at least – to be that little bit harder. And if a week in the sun and five pitchers of sangria are going to help, then why on earth not? You can see it in people's eyes at the moment, on public transport and in the queue at posh supermarkets. Play spot the difference between those who are about to holiday and those who just got back: the former are snarling, red-eyed zombies, the latter smiling beacons of philanthropy and tolerance.

Channel 4's new Holiday Hijack programme has the usual veterans of all-inclusive hotel compounds being exported to stay with local families so they can taste the real culture of the countries they're in. Unsurprisingly, at the end of the experiment, most say they'd rather go back to their five-star compounds.

Rather than feeling that this displays oodles of Western disgustingness, I nod along vigorously with them. You can worry about the world going to hell in a handcart when you get back; holidays are for disconnecting and just enjoying being idle. And there's a greater good attached to that, because they make people more content. And content people don't burn down their local high street. Some more worthy members of our society may want to help at the local fish market or build schools (and good for them), but I'd argue that theirs is probably a quotidian unlike most people's.

It isn't always to the detriment of these local cultures either. Package dollars can create employment, chances for development and peripheral profits rather than sapping the life out of a host community. So maybe it's no bad thing that more Brits are getting away on all-inclusive deals. Oliver Letwin may not think so, given he "[doesn't] want more people from Sheffield having cheap holidays", but even he'd have to agree that anything that boosts morale, productivity and social cohesion might not be a bad thing right now.

Ultimately, the chance to get away and relax is a marker of a highly evolved society – like when the residents of Coronation Street and Albert Square do a special episode in the Algarve and learn new things about themselves. Whether it's a week in an ill-ventilated apartment or a few days strolling on a pier in the rain, if more people have the chance to do so, it'll make for a happier society too.

h.walker@independent.co.uk

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Telesales & Customer Service Executives - Outbound & Inbound

£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...

Recruitment Genius: National Account Manager / Key Account Sales

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for a...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join...

Recruitment Genius: Recruitment Consultant

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We have an excellent role for a...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Pakistani volunteers carry a student injured in the shootout at a school under attack by Taliban gunmen, at a local hospital in Peshawar  

The Only Way is Ethics: The paper’s readers and users of our website want different things

Will Gore
 

Labour's Simon Danczuk is flirting with Nigel Farage, but will he answer his prayers and defect?

Matthew Norman
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

Marian Keyes

The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

Rodgers fights for his reputation

Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick