Characteristics of working in all-inclusive resorts in the Dominican Republic

Speaker: Ernest Cañada

Institution: Researcher at the University of the Balearic Islands and member of Alba Sud

Tourism growth in the Dominican Republic has been steady since the 1990s. After the interruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, its reactivation has been even more intense and the country leads tourism growth in the Caribbean. The main area in which this development has taken place is the Macao area in Punta Cana, in the province of La Altagracia. This development has been managed mainly by hotel chains, mostly Spanish, under the all-inclusive formula. This model has been critically analysed for the lack of integration it generates in its surroundings, reproducing exclusionary dynamics. There has also been strong attention to phenomena associated with sex tourism. However, less attention has been paid to the characteristics and quality of the employment it generates, as well as to its labour relations. This presentation aims to share an ongoing research that aims to broaden the understanding of the type of employment generated by all-inclusive resorts in relation to working conditions and labour relations. The research, basically ethnographic in nature, has been developed through five stays between 2017 and 2023, with direct observation in three areas (inside hotels, at Hoyo Friusa, a suburb of Bávaro, and in the dormitory town of Higüey, in the same province of La Altagracia) and in-depth interviews with 140 people (workers and managers of hotels and professionals linked to the sector). The results of the research show how low salaries turn these hotels into places where workers are constantly trying to find other sources of income in multiple ways. In addition, the flexibility and cost-saving policies imposed by the companies generate terrible employment and working conditions. Finally, the absence of a class-based trade union organisation means that workers are unable to defend their demands through organisations that respond to their interests. Consequently, they try to resolve their concerns through informal forms of protest. The growth of all-inclusive hotel tourism has not been accompanied by decent employment, but has exacerbated working poverty and precariousness.

Date: 21/05/2024

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