Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainable Tourism – Findings and discussion

In many low income countries there are problems of lack of tourism planning, established tourism ministries as well as clear roles and objectives. Therefore focusing on public-private partnership to forward the CSR agenda should have a greater overall positive impact and advance sustainable tourism in the industry.
In order to enhance sustainable tourism development in low income countries, there is a need to focus on elements of the tourism industry which can affect a greater number of products and businesses and contribute environmentally, socially and economically to lower income countries.
Initiatives must be industry led as labour standards and other elements of sustainability are not visible to the consumer but crucial nonetheless to the long-term wellbeing of the destination. CSR reporting means a company is more transparent and accountable to external stakeholders, enabling investors to avoid risk and consumers to support more sustainable businesses, therefore having a multiplier effect.
Currently there is low brand loyalty as consumers make decisions primarily based on price; CSR initiatives could potentially lead to increased brand loyalty and product differentiation. As there is currently little consumer support or awareness, information databases need to be linked so that environmental and social criteria can be provided to the client when they are booking their holiday.
To ensure that a more sustainable form of tourism is pursued, there is a need for stricter legislation coupled with joined-up government.
Stricter legislation in low income and developing countries is often fraught with issues of corruption, lack of monitoring and lack of governance, as there are often neither tourism master plans that incorporate sustainable tourism practices or measures nor incentives for industry to adopt them on their own initiative. To date, few developing countries have imposed social or environmental criteria to foreign investors, seeing only short term economic gains instead of long-term, holistic, sustainable tourism development.