Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainable Tourism – Labour standards as part of sustainable tourism

Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainable Tourism - Labour standards as part of sustainable tourismMiller, Rathouse, Scarles, Holmes, and Tribe’s (2010) research paper presents the results of research conducted amongst members of the public in England on their understanding of sustainable tourism; their response to four desired tourism behaviour goals, and expectations about the role of government and the tourism industry in encouraging sustainable tourism. The research shows a lack of awareness of tourism’s impact relative to day-to-day behaviour, feelings of disempowerment and an unwillingness to make significant changes to current tourism behaviour. In their research, Erku§-Ozturk and Eraydin (2010) analysed together governance networks and literature on sustainable development, and provided empirical findings that highlight the importance of governance networks in sustainable tourism development, the importance of different scales of collaborative governance networks and the role of organisation building for environmentally sustainable tourism development in Antalya. Logar’s (2010) study explores the potential use of eight such instruments for managing more sustainable tourism in the coastal town of Crikvenica, Croatia.
Environmental aspects have been the priority of official certification programmes and voluntary initiatives since the early 1980’s and only recently have social or community issues been added. Human rights and labour issues have been more focused upon in developing countries. Additionally, more advanced concepts such as “the triple bottom line” (environmental, social and economic) are just now being incorporated into definitions and initiatives.
There are a number of labour issues which affect the tourism industry. These include women’s rights, fair wages, long working hours, qualification and skills requirements for employees, inability to join trade unions, importing of labour and displacement of traditional employment to benefit from tourism dollars. Tourism workers often do not earn a living wage and are dependent on tips and service charges. Many workers have temporary contracts or none at all, work long hours and are employed in low skilled areas such as waitressing and/or house cleaning.
Within the tourism industry it is generally agreed that there are increasing overall societal and environmental concerns, and that this will increase the demand for more sustainable destinations and travel preferences. These will increase the pressure for destination management policies and tour operator responsibility. The destination which were the result of overbuilding, are expected to face severe decline as consumers look for more attractive destinations that feature a clean environment and well preserved natural and cultural attractions. Another trend affecting sustainable tourism is health and wellness. Active or adventure holidays, wellness and spa products and sun destinations are likely to increase in popularity. Authenticity or ‘experiential tourism’ is another trend. Artificial type destinations (e.g., theme parks), which do not meet higher consumer quality standards, will decrease as the consumer searches for the greater authenticity. Furthermore, there has also been an increase in tourists seeking meaning from their vacation experiences with a resultant noticeable increase in the number of organisations that offer volunteer based travel or educational travel, notably from non-traditional NGO (Non Governmental Organisation)’s such as Volunteer Services Overseas (VSO), etc.
The market share of sustainable tourism is difficult to assess as many consumers do not just purchase one type of holiday. During the same year, they may choose a typical package sun and sand holiday as well as one that specifically caters to nature and adventure. Sustainable tourists are approximately 50% free and independent travellers (FIT) and 50% package tour travellers (those travelling with a tour operator. The majority of tourists seeking nature or adventure type holidays typically travel with niche or small scale operators as mass operators tend to accommodate sun, sea and sand packages.