Tui-owned operator First Choice has announced it is to make all its holidays all inclusive from 2012, prompting concerns that the move runs counter to the travel giant’s sustainability programme. Tui UK and Ireland communications director Christian Cull responds below

First Choice is already two-thirds all-inclusive. We are as committed now as ever to making our operations more sustainable. We have demonstrated this through our three-year Holidays Forever commitments and are the first travel company to launch such wide-ranging measureable sustainability pledges.

One of our Holidays Forever commitments is also to have more than 90% of our hotels Travelife-awarded by 2014 and be working on the rest. Backed by ABTA, Travelife awards recognise hotels that care for the environment, their employees and the local community. By the end of 2011 half of TUI customers will be staying in these hotels already.

Through Travelife we’ve been working closely with hoteliers to make all hotels in our programme more sustainable, supporting the local economy by encouraging them to work with suppliers local to the hotel and also employing local people under fairer working conditions.

All-inclusives also achieve better occupancy and are more in demand. We have also been working with experts to see how we can increase the benefits of all inclusive to local communities and putting in practices to do this.

It is a myth that people do not go out of the hotel just because they’re on an all-inclusive holiday. As a holiday company we encourage people to go on local excursions and explore all that the destination has to offer. We are doing a lot of work in this area to increase communications with customers whilst they are on holiday, encouraging them to use local services.

For many of our flagship properties we are also setting up excursions that will enable customers to get a real taste for the destination they are visiting.

Do you agree? Vote on First Choice’s new strategy in our homepage poll (closes April 15) and leave your comments below.