Sustainability along the Line?

CSR in the Tourism Supply Chain

By Katja Plume

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) plays an increasingly important role. A symposium on CSR along the tourism supply chain, organised by "GATE - Netzwerk, Tourismus, Kultur e.V." and other partners, took place on 20th and 21st November, 2009, in Hamburg, Germany. It provided opportunities for exchange and discussion.

Surveys have shown that a small but growing segment of customers are ready to pay a CSR premium. However, it is not always clear what CSR as a concept actually means. The Rewe Group mainly produces brochures and information on sustainability which do not show whether and to what extent CSR has been integrated into daily decision making processes. The new certification system developed by the Centre for Ecology & Development (KATE Stuttgart) is an attempt to make the complexity of CSR in tourism supply chains measurable and assessable. The system relies on the companies' self-evaluation and on a continuous process of learning and improvement.

While CSR has been playing an increasingly important role in Europe, incoming agencies and other tourism actors in developing countries are usually not familiar with the terminology, though they might know about the objectives. The problem of different organisational cultures is often neglected, which may lead to the failure of well-meant attempts. Nevertheless, there are initiatives worth taking note of, such as "Corporate Social Responsibility Market Access Partnerships (CSR-MAP) for Thai Sustainable Tourism Supply Chains". It is aimed at developing and marketing sustainable tourism products based on culturally adapted CSR standards which have been developed in a participatory manner. In German development cooperation, GTZ tries to alleviate poverty through CSR by promoting local sourcing.

A documentation of the event and will be published in 2010.

Further information:

Katja Plume is a board member of GATE - Netzwerk, Tourismus, Kultur e.V.. She is about to complete her master's degree in "Sustainable Tourism Management" at the University of Applied Sciences, Eberswalde, Germany.

(December 2009, TW 57)