Essay On The Principle Of Sustainability
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Application of Sustainability in the Tourism Industry
In recent years, sustainability was one of the issues raised affecting operations and practices not only in the tourism industry but in other industries as well. Sustainability is one of the major challenges in the tourism industry because operations in businesses or establishments affect the environment, particularly the preservation of natural resources and global warming. Consequently, problems in sustainability will also affect operations in tourism businesses and institutions as they will only gain limited resources. Some of the major issues concerning sustainability in tourism include the contribution of business operations to greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere (See, 278), the excessive use of water in business operations that raise water shortage concerns (Leslie, 98; Robinson, 226), the effect of tourism development (i.e. infrastructure and facilities development) on the environment, and other social issues that affect the quality of life, living situation, and livelihood of people in communities (Uysal, Perdue, & Sirgy, 477). Carbon emissions is a sensitive topic because extreme emissions and presence of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere lead to global warming, which then affects climate conditions.
All of the foregoing issues relate to tourism operations and practices. Considering the problems and issues about tourism and sustainability, the succeeding discussion will focus on defining the principle of sustainability as it applies to organizational operations, particularly in the tourism industry. Furthermore, the discussion will also focus on effective sustainable practices that may be adopted by tourism businesses and organizations.
Essentially, the principle of sustainability concerns development using existing resources with the future of the upcoming generations in mind. “The concept of sustainability explores the relationship among economic development, environmental quality, and social equity” (Rogers, Jalal & Boyd, 42). Economic development is important because it spurs progress in all areas of society, from health to education, and national security to employment, among others. Nonetheless, sustainability highlights the importance of facilitating economic development in a way that uses resources efficiently so as not to affect the quality of the environment or upset balance in society or social equity for younger generations.
When applied in practice, sustainability goes hand in hand with development. Sustainable development refers to the process of creating and implementing development projects that “can meet the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” (World Commission on Environment and Development). The WCED’s definition supports the principle of sustainability described beforehand. Hence, in sustainability, there must be efficient control in the use of existing resources to satisfy current demand in a way that ensures the same or more amount of resources would still exist for upcoming generations.
In the organizational setting, the principle of sustainability is incorporated in corporate social responsibility (CSR). CSR may be defined as a set of practices in the organization that allows it to give back to the community (Mullerat, 15). Moreover, CSR constitutes policies that set standards for business activities towards the goal of reducing the impact of operations on the environment and society. CSR, therefore, encompasses action on the part of organizations to contribute to social development and nurture their relationship with stakeholders (Banerjee, 16).
Hence, organizational practices not only benefit the business or company through revenue accumulation but also the community. Examples of CSR policies or practices include those that aim to reduce greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere. Other policies include those that limit the use of non-renewable resources and businesses’ commitment to the development of infrastructure for renewable sources of energy (Haynes, Dillard & Murray, 324). Other CSR policies include those that contribute to social development such as contributions to employment, education and health, as well as human welfare in general.
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Issues in the Tourism Industry
CSR issues in the tourism industry are multidimensional. Essentially, people associated CSR with environmental issues. Nonetheless, businesses also deal with other issues, particularly cultural, economic, social, political, and even technological. As part of the local and international community, businesses in the tourism industry must show responsibility by contributing to the resolution of various problems and issues in sustainability.
CSR policies affect all branches and departments of any tourism business or company. Jonker and de Witte (83) illustrated how CSR practices and policies extends to different operations in the organization. Tourism businesses such as tour operators, hotels, and travel agents may adopt CSR policies and practices in the form of ethical policies. All these businesses in the tourism industry may influence other stakeholders including the clients, staff, suppliers, and the products or services they offer. Clients refer to tourists and travelers. Part of CSR include the tourism business’ responsibility in spreading information and awareness about sustainability issues and problems. In this way, they would be able to advise clients about their role in reducing their impact on the environment or contributing to social causes. Staff members include the tour operators, or the hotel and travel agents. Through training, tourism businesses may be able to pass on their CSR policies and practices to staff members. In this way, they would be able to let these policies influence their practices and daily relations with customers or guests. Suppliers also refer to tour operators and hotel or travel agents. Suppliers may adopt CSR by integrating them in their contracts. Creating contracts is important in order to hold people or institutions liable for any misconduct or action that is unsustainable. CSR policies also include adjustments in the product or service, particularly the tourism destination. Tourism businesses may work with local communities including leaders so they would be able to maintain natural resources and address social issues together (Jonker & de Witte, 83).
One of the main social issues that businesses may address through CSR and sustainable policies include those that affect human populations. A common issue is human trafficking. Based on a report by the Kuoni Group, child sex tourism is prevalent in developing countries due to abject poverty. Often, child sex tourism takes place in tourism and hospitality establishments such as hotels (Kuoni Group). People involved in human trafficking bring children to hotels where sexual predators stay and wait. Human trafficking infringes on the human rights of women and children (Kuoni Group). Hence, crime occurs within the confines of tourism establishments. Nonetheless, no legitimate business or organization in the tourism industry want to be associated with human trafficking. Tepelus (82), however, asserted that businesses must acknowledge that their system and networks may be used by traffickers to exploit people, particularly women and children. According to Tepelus, tourism businesses must “react against the use of its networks and establishments in circumstances leading to human rights abuses, such as in the case of child sex tourism” (82). Whether tourism businesses are directly or indirectly responsible for issues such as human trafficking, they should take measures in order to limit how criminals or violators can take advantage of their operations to commit crime. Traffickers take advantage of tourism by luring people to various destinations at a cheaper cost. Traffickers try to simulate how tourism businesses offer deals or packages. After getting people to sign up to their offers, they then send them to places where they become slaves. Most women and children are prostituted in other countries where they cannot ask for help nor find a way to return home. This is the harsh reality that tourism businesses must confront, particularly when it comes to social responsibility. Organizations may assess the impact of their CSR policies and practices to determine areas for improvement and efficient strategies through annual reporting (Jonker & de Witte, 83).
The case of Spain, however, illustrate the upside of tourism. Based on Argandoña’s report, tourism development in the country has increased employment opportunities in local communities, raised the standard of living particularly in cities frequented by tourists, increased revenue due to the growth of businesses, and the growth of other industries such as the food and hospitality sectors due to the influx of tourists. Nonetheless, on the other hand, rapid and continuous development brought about environmental problems that would be difficult to resolve in the coming years. Examples of unintended yet detrimental consequences include water shortage due to significant water consumption, overcrowding that lowers the quality of life in some communities, traffic congestion, and pollution. Some stakeholders are now worried about the repercussions of unsustainable practices to the future generations (Argandoña).
Sustainability Issues in the Tourism Industry
The tourism industry has significantly grown over the years. Based on the United Nations Millennium Development Goals, the industry has achieved its revenue targets during the past decade. The global economy also relies on tourism because it is one of the industries that addresses unemployment. “The tourism industry, being highly labour-intensive and a primary source of income in many developing and emerging countries, has been identified as a key sector in meeting the MDGs” (Frey & George, 108).
One of the problems that affect sustainability is mass tourism. Mass tourism refers to the organized and inflexible practice of promoting and advertising tourist destinations to a large population through pre-packaged leisure arrangements. Hence, destinations around the world cater to a large population of tourists at the same time and these tourists follow a rigid arrangement of accommodations and tours (Vanhove, 44). Consequently, local hospitality and tourism businesses take advantage of the large tourist population for profit. Often, businesses employ mass tourism to draw consumers. The problem with a high number of tourists, however, is that it leads to overcrowding, which then affects local communities. Overcrowding leads to pollution and congestions, particularly in roads. Overcrowding also increase the volume of garbage collected in any city and increases the use or emission of carbon in the atmosphere. With mass tourism, businesses are also determined to meet the needs of the consumers. For this reason, tourism development is fast-tracked with the development of infrastructure such as roads and other buildings or establishments to accommodate tourists or guests. The problem with rapid development is that it endangers the environment. Excessive land use without control or limiting guidelines may lead to natural disasters such as landslides and other calamities brought about by environmental degradation.
Overall, the problem with mass tourism is that it leads to damaging outcomes, particularly on the environment and local communities. The volume of people visiting destinations wreak havoc on the natural environment. Millions of visitors mean that the local community would have to meet this population’s demand for resources such as water and electricity. The high number of tourists in mass tourism would lead to water and electricity shortage, which would be unfavorable for locals.
Solutions to Improve Sustainability in the Tourism Industry
One of the solutions to implement sustainability in tourism is to adopt strategies or business models that allow businesses or organizations to implement sustainable practices or operations as well as create workable CSR policies. One of the buzzwords in sustainable tourism is “responsible tourism” (Frey & George, 107). The popularity of responsible tourism “has been fuelled by increasing international pressure on the tourism sector to address issues of global warming, social inequality, and diminishing natural resources” (Frey & Geroge, 107).
Aside from RTM, however, tourism businesses may also adopt different models and strategies to improve their CSR and sustainable practices. Table 1 below illustrates different tools that tourism businesses may adopt to improve their CSR practices and strategies.
The Tools for Achieving Sustainability
Source: Mowforth & Munt, 110
Organizations in the tourism industry may also look inward and adopt or implement operations and practices to show social responsibility. Tourism businesses may assess their own operations to identify those that contribute to problems and issues about sustainability. Examples of operations that may be adjusted to remain sustainable include energy used in the workplace (e.g. solar energy), fuel used in delivering services, or even raw materials used to produce goods or products and services.
The foregoing discussion not only defines the principle of sustainability but also identifies the issues about sustainability in relation to the tourism industry. Based on case studies and existing literature, various specific issues were also explored to highlight sustainable issues in terms of culture, the environment, and society and the economy. As formerly noted, tourism development significantly affects sustainability, especially those that relate to the environment and society. Hence, it is important that tourism businesses and organizations acknowledge their roles and responsibilities in facilitating sustainability in all aspects.
One of the ways that organizations develop sustainability is through their adoption of Corporate Social Responsibility. CSR encompasses all policies and practices in the organization that would allow it to give back to the community in various ways. In the same way, the organization could also benefit from branding by using its CSR policies as a way to establish its reputation as a socially responsible brand. Overall, implementing sustainability and maintaining social responsibility means developing the capacity to both gain revenue through organizational operations but also give back to the community by supporting different causes and addressing environmental, economic, or social issues that need the attention of influential public and private institutions.
Argandoña, Antonio. Corporate social responsibility in the tourism industry. Some lessons from the Spanish experience. Working paper, WP-844 (2010).
Banerjee, Subhabrata Bobby. Corporate social responsibility: The good, the bad, and the ugly. Oxford, UK: Edward Elgar Publishing, 2009.
Frey, Nicole & George, Richard. “Responsible tourism and the tourism industry: A demand and supply perspective”. In A. Spenceley’s Responsible Tourism: Critical Issues for Conservation and Development. London, UK: Earthstcan, 2012.
Haynes, Kathryn, Dillard, Jesse F., & Murray, Alan. Corporate Social Responsibility: A research handbook. New York, NY: Routledge, 2012.
Jonker, Jan & de Witte, Marco. Management models for corporate social responsibility. New York, NY: Springer Science & Business Media, 2006.
Kuoni Group. Protecting the Innocent. Web. <http://www.kuoni.com/corp-responsibility/human-and-labour-rights/child-protection>.
Leslie, David. Responsible tourism: Concepts, theory and practice. CABI, 2012.
Mullerat, Ramon. International Corporate Social Responsibility. Kluwer Law International, 2010.
Robinson, Peter. Tourism: The key concepts. New York, NY: Routledge, 2012.
Rogers, Peter P., Jalal, Kazi F. & Boyd, John A. An introduction to sustainable development. London, UK: Earthscan, 2012.
Uysal, Muzaffer, Perdue, Richard, & Sirgy, Joseph M. Handbook of tourism and quality-of-life research. New York, NY: Springer Science & Business Media, 2012.
Vanhove, Norbert. “Mass tourism”. In J. J. Pigram and S. Wahab’s Tourism, development and growth: The challenge of sustainability. New York, NY: Routledge, 2005.
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