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New tourism report: hotel workers plagued by low wages and long hours



How does the all inclusive hotel model in the tourism sector affect the rights of employees? This is the underlying question that a report launched last month by campaign group Tourism Concern sought to assess and ultimately shed light on.

The new research, supported by the International Federation of Trade Unions and the International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers’ Association (IUF), was undertaken in three destinations: Kenya (Mombassa), Tenerife and Barbados. It looked to investigate and address the impacts of all inclusive hotels on pay, working conditions and staff labour rights.

The study reveals that all inclusive hotels are unfavourable for most staff, with long working hours, limited opportunities and low wages. This is on top of other implications to do with seasonality, job security and fair treatment in the workplace.

However, signs of progress have been shown on the labour standards and employee engagement front since 2004, which can be attributed to deepened union representation and collective bargaining.

It was hoped that this study would illuminate the debate about employee rights, promote sustainable tourism and shape government policy for the future.

Host destination leakage and the role of tour operators feature as immensely important issues in the all inclusive hotel model. Tourism expenditure usually stays in the hands of the tour operator and hotels providers, and is consequently leaked out of the local economy and destination.

Evidence from this report sheds light on the employee labour rights movement, gives a more detailed outlook on the current state of labour rights and working conditions in the tourism market, and highlights the distinct lack of labour rights for workers in all inclusive hotels.

Photo: vitamindave via Flickr

Further reading:

Ecotourism flourishes when local people are engaged with sustainability

Why tourism can be a force for good in the developing world, and why it isn’t

Official figures highlight economic impact tourism has in the UK

Urban sustainable tourism: being responsible in the city

The Guide to Sustainable Tourism 2014


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