SOUTH Coast resorts like Bournemouth should follow in the footsteps of Mediterranean rivals by offering all-inclusive deals to cash-strapped families.

That’s the view of travel expert John Kent who says hoteliers, struggling to fill vacant rooms, should be prepared to chop their prices.

The boss and hotel chain founder, whose pioneering use of technology has revolutionised the UK package holiday industry, spoke exclusively to the Daily Echo before giving a lecture at Bournemouth University.

He said: “Price is the key and families want value for money now, more than ever before. I believe that Bournemouth is one of the best resorts in Britain with great beaches and transport links. But hotel accommodation is too expensive here.

“People can fly to Majorca for £49 and stay in a four-star all-inclusive hotel for the same price as a three-star hotel in Bournemouth.”

Mr Kent, who lives in London and Athens, added: “All-inclusive deals are very popular in countries like Greece and Spain; I can never comprehend why hotels don’t offer the same sort of package here.

“If they are small and haven’t got the necessary bar and restaurant facilities, they could double up with nearby restaurants and bars.”

The tourism entrepreneur, who founded the John Kent Institute in Tourism at Bournemouth University and is funding several research projects, suggested that the town’s hated Waterfront Imax building could be turned into a water park.

“Water parks have proved to be a very big family draw in other holiday destinations and I think that’s what Bournemouth needs, or maybe a theme park,” he said.

In a bid to encourage more families and older people to visit Bournemouth, Mr Kent suggested sectioning off part of the town centre for stag and hen parties.

“It’s worked in Malia and there’s no reason why it wouldn’t work in Bournemouth as well. The 18 to 30 market is an important source of revenue but, like Malia has found in recent years, it can damage a resort. There needs to be a balance.”

He added: “It’s better to sell a room, at the last minute, for half the price than leave it empty, and maybe throw in a free dinner as well.”