Being a Responsible Business – Perspectives from Inge Huijbrechts, Vice President of Responsible Business at Carlson Rezidor Group

Inge Huijbrechts believes that sustainability is a non-competitive space. Everyone / everybusiness can engage. In this report, first published in EA Sustainable Tourism Report, Issue 6, Judy Kepher-Gona, captures highlights of an interview with  Inge Huijbrechts, Vice President of Responsible Business of the Carlson Rezidor Group. The interview focused on the Group’s sustainability philosophy, how the philosophy is integrated in operations of individual hotel units and the practices/ programs that define their sustainability agenda. The Carlson Rezidor Group has two properties in kenya, namely Radisson Blu in Upper Hill and Park Inn by Radisson in Westlands are part of the Carlson Rezidor Group.

 About the Group

The Carlson Rezidor group has seven hotel brands. Out of these, only four brands operate in Africa. These are Radisson Blu, Radisson Red, Park Inn and the luxury brand Quorvus. The first Quorvus hotel in East Africa will be opened in Uganda in 2017. The Group has identified East Africa, and Africa at large as a strategic growth area and will be opening more properties in the coming years.

Globally, the group has more than 1100 hotels under its portfolio with 300 more in the pipeline. Africa has, 37 properties, which offer 16,000 beds. Radisson Blu is the dominant brand in Africa accounting for 30, out of the total 37 units. The other 7 units are the Park Inn brand, a brand that is steadily growing in numbers. The number of properties in Africa is expected to double in three years.

In East Africa, the group has four hotels namely Radisson Blu Nairobi, Radisson Blu Kigali, Park Inn Kenya and the yet to be opened Quorvus in Uganda. Radisson Blu sees Africa as growth region and a large percentage of the planned 30 units will be in Africa.

Significant to note is that the Group does not own any of the hotels it operates. However, they influence design of properties they have identified for lease to ensure the design meets the Groups selected brand quality and work closely with the property owners to achieve the best guest experience and environmental performance of the buildings.

Motivation to be Sustainable

Origins and innovation summarise the Groups motivation. Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group was founded on a culture of a responsible business. This tradition and culture is associated with the Group’s Scandinavian roots. Having emerged from the Scandinavian Airlines in the Nordic countries, a region known for its environmental consciousness for over 40 years, the Group continued with the tradition. Over the years the group has expanded the consciousness beyond the environment into a full responsible business approach and incorporated human rights, green operations, youth empowerment, water management, supply chain management, guest safety and green design among others. The Group is constantly looking for new ways to increase their positive impact. Their efforts have won them recognition for example recently with the 2017 UNWTO award for excellence and innovation.

Conceptualising Sustainability / Responsible business

Put simply, at Carlson Rezidor, being a responsible business means having sustainable operations and sustainable social engagement, which is beyond Corporate Social Responsibility. It is acknowledged that a clear conceptualisation of the concept of responsible business and engagement of everybody in the organisation, from management, to staff and clients is key to being a successful responsible business. Today different businesses translate the sustainability concept variously; some ‘green washing’, others trying to pass CSR as sustainability and many more using the term in publicity material without doing much towards being responsible. At Carlson Rezidor Group, being responsible means goes beyond the triple elements of sustainable tourism, which is, people/ community, environment, and economics. It is a total appreciation for sustainability, which means investing in and being ethical and transparent about people/ community engagements, environment, and economics in ways that create authentic experiences for guests, promote learning and fulfilment for employees, create innovation partnerships, challenge and be challenged by partners and influence the future of the industry. The Group perceives sustainability as a dynamic space that allows a business to innovate.

Defining Pillars

The Groups Responsible business success story is anchored on three defining pillars that encourage a bottom up approach in implementation.. These are; Think People, Think Community & Think Planet. Each of these pillars has specific focal areas, a strategy, indicators, and targets.

Think People is concerned with human rights in the supply chain with a focus on women, eliminating forced and child labour. Additionally the Group focuses on providing meaningful employment and on people development e.g. providing employability skills to the youth, vulnerable women and people with disabilities.

Think Community focuses on empowering the local communities through donations, volunteer programs or supporting access to social services.

Lastly, Think Planet is focused on reducing the Groups carbon, water and waste footprints.

Each brand handles/ implements a specific focus area of the Think People, Think Community, and Think Planets Pillars. For example, The Radisson Blu brand focuses on water by supporting community access to clean water and sanitation while the Park Inn brand focuses on empowering youth. Park Inn Cape town for example, has 30% of its employees that are deaf. Radisson Blu hotel Vendôme Cape Town also has a similar program with a growing number of deaf employees. Through this initiative, the group has won the Guardian Sustainability Award in 2015.

 Outstanding Initiatives of Radisson Blu Kenya

SOS Kenya

The cooperation with SOS Kenya started when the Group’s CEO, Wolfgang Neumann, raised funds to sponsor one of the Nairobi family homes for orphaned children. Since then, the Radisson Blu hotel has continued the support and developed other axes of cooperation with SOS.

Among other initiatives SOS youngsters are involved in re-purposing of soap waste for the hotel for use at the children’s home and for sale. The hotel and its partner Sealed Air, have provided the SOS village with safe equipment that sanitises left over soap, adds value to it through introducing different scents, then it is packaged for market. The project has been successfully running for just a few months and has potential to be grown.

Radisson Blu Nairobi also mentors the youth from Children’s village by regularly inviting them to the hotel or by stopping by to prepare and enjoy a meal together. In the near future, the Radisson Blu will start working with SOS’ vocational They invite the centre to perform at Hotel events instead of hiring established artists. This is meant to develop talent among them.

 Makueni Water Project

This project provides water for life to one person for every 250 times that guests respond to the towel change policy in a Radisson Blu Hotel or Resort. Through a partnership with Just a Drop, a global not-for-profit organisation that works in the water sector to improve access for marginalised / rural communities, lifelong sustainable water access solutions are provided to this community from the hotels towel change policy. Arguably, the towel change policy is a water saving project as much as it is contributes to other environmental credits and economic benefits for the hotel. By the end of 2016, the Makueni Sand-dam water project had 200 projects, mainly focused on constructing sand dams, rock catchments, and school water tanks.

Specifically, the donations from Radisson Blu hotels have helped to provide water for life tog 8300 people,

 

Recycling

The hotel, in partnership with a local innovative waste recycle company Taka Taka Solutions, has managed to recycle 98% of its waste. So almost none of its waste ends up in a landfill. They took time to look for and work with a waste management company to achieve these remarkable results and continue tracking performance through 6-monthly reports.

Carbon Offset

Through its loyalty program Club Carlson, the Group calculates and offsets its carbon footprint for meetings and events. Every tonne of carbon generated by a meeting on site in one of the Carlson Rezidor hotels and booked by a member of Club Carlson, is offset through a combination of VCS carbon certificates and the planting of an additional tree in Kenya by ESCONET, a forest group based in Limuru. Between 2013 and 2017, Carlson Rezidor hotels worldwide supported planting of 39,000 trees.

Integrating Responsible Business Pillars in Operations

Radisson Blu believes in empowering employees and having clear systems that support monitoring and a structure that ensures delivery of targets while allowing for creativity. This is core to their integration of responsibility business practice to its operations. The first engagement by employees is training. All employees go through the Living Responsible Business training irrespective of their position. This is to ensure that every employee has a role to play in implementing the group’s responsibility strategy. In terms of structure, the Group has a Vice President who oversees the entire groups responsible business strategy by motivating the regions and units to be creative and engaged. At the regions, like East Africa, there are regional coordinators who work with a master trainer and a Responsible Business coordinator located in each hotel unit. The regional coordinators assist the VPs in monitoring targets and compiling the sustainability data and best practices from the individual hotel units. The master trainer at each unit coordinates the specific hotel responsibility practices, inducts all new staff through training, and is responsible for overall sustainability training in the unit. Both the Responsible Business coordinator and the hotel Responsible Business training are employees of the hotel with other roles e.g. the head chef, HR manager, front office supervisor, and only volunteer in the responsible business role.

To support individual hotels in realising their focal projects, the group works with targets. The targets are documented in the Groups 5-year Responsible Business plans. The last responsible business plan ended in December 2016 and new targets have been set for 2020. All staff are engaged and encouraged to identify bet practices along the focus areas for implementation by their units.

Documentation is an integral part of integration. Every individual hotel keeps record of its interventions in the responsibility chain, which are guided by the indicators in the plan and documented as best practices. This is then shared with the office of the Vice President, through the regional coordinators who share them across the units. This encourages cross learning. Without documenting and reporting cross learning would not be possible. In summary, every hotel is a living responsible business

Sustainability and City-based hotels

The perception that it is challenging for City-based hotels to embrace responsible business tradition is false and defeating. Definitely every business can embrace sustainability and operate as a responsible businesses and the city is not a limitation. Being a responsible business has nothing to do with location, it has to do with choice.

The Profitability Question

Being a responsible business is profitable whichever way one looks at it. However, there is need to invest in right systems to be able to measure the impact. The Group has developed a triple bottom line accounting and reporting system that tracks the savings from the responsibility initiatives. They have also integrated the World Bank’s Edge Tool, an IFC innovation that not tracks and calculates the return on investment from green investments and promotes green buildings in emerging markets. Using the IFC system also allows the Group’s management to work with investors to design and build their hotels in green ways.

Between 2011-2016 the Group saved 5 million Euros in utility costs in their leased estate from managing energy. Further, the Group attracts corporate clients that relate to the responsible business approach. This is expanding / growing very fast and its good for business. The Group also attracts passionate employees who become ambassadors of our Responsible business agenda. This has a knock-on effect on customer experience and by extension the bottom-line.

Being responsible is always recognised. The group has been named one of the World’s Most Ethical companies every year since 2010. Other awards have been won by the Think People projects that increase employability opportunities for youth and people with disabilities. This improves the brand value and has positive knock-on effects on the Groups bottom-line.

It is clear that, having a responsible business culture as a rallying point makes it easier and less expensive to be a responsible business, and gives a quicker return on investment.

Role of Partnerships

Partnerships are important in enhancing opportunities for responsible businesses. The Carlson Rezidor group has recently partnered with World Bank to use its approved tool for Green Buildings known as EDGE. All new hotel units will be by analysed in EDGE and efforts will be made to retrofit existing ones. The Group embraces this tool because it is evident that building in green technology from the start is more cost efficient than retrofitting .

As part of this partnership with the IFC World Bank, Radisson Blu Nairobi will host a Green Building Summit in 2017 to promote Green Buildings in Africa

Measuring Success

Radisson Blu views success in terms of the commitment of their top management, the passion in their staff in creating guest experiences and supporting the responsible business targets, guest satisfaction, resilience of the brand, the approval by business partners and third party recognition they receive over and over again

Role Responsible Vice President, Responsible Business

To progress the agenda of a responsible business Carlson Rezidor, the mother company of Radisson Blu, has a Vice President Responsible Business who oversees the programs by facilitating and creating the right mind-set for everyone- employees, clients, business partners, suppliers to respond.

How does the future look like for responsible businesses?

Hotels have no option but to go green. It is encouraging to know that significant efforts are being made by many global hotel groups towards this end. As a responsible business, Carlson Rezidor is spreading the message of sustainability by creating opportunities for networking and engaging other hotels businesses in Brussels and globally. Currently the Group’s CEO chairs a sustainability forum of leading hotel groups as their way of influencing the industry.

 Finally, Inge Huijbrechts believes that sustainability is a non-competitive space. Everyone can engage

Obstacles in Transforming Tourism Sector into a Real People Impact (RPI) Industry

Obstacles in Transforming Tourism Sector into a Real People Impact (RPI) Industry

Sustainable tourism has received a vote of confidence from United Nations. 2017 has been declared International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development. It is the second time in 15 years that United Nation recognises sustainable tourism. The first recognition came in 2002, when the year was declared the International Year of Ecotourism.

That sustainable tourism is significant in the future and growth of tourism is now evident. From 2002 to 2017 declarations, the momentum to create awareness and make sustainable tourism the norm and not a niche market has been sustained. Nations, private and public organisations have developed tools or put in place systems for enhancement, implementation, monitoring & evaluation, measurement, recognition, and reporting sustainable tourism and sustainability in tourism. Some of the international organisations that have engaged include:

  • UNWTO – United Nations World Tourism Organisation
  • GSTC – Global Sustainable Tourism Council
  • IUCN – Green Destination Guidelines
  • UNESCO – United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation
  • WTTC -World Travel & Tourism Council

The role of advocacy organisations like Global Ecotourism Network, The International Ecotourism Society, Global Sustainable Tourism Council, National Geographic, and SKAL has also escalated through conferences, awards, and development of standards. In academics, the contribution has come through curriculum development for graduate and postgraduate studies in sustainable tourism. The extensive research in this field is a further affirmation of the relevance and significance of sustainable tourism in the future and growth of tourism.

Suffice to say the engagement of these organisations, and the UN recognition has given tourism an opportunity to transform into a Real People Impact (RPI) industry. This has led to a shift of focus from simply complying with standards to enhancing visitor experience and safeguarding people and planet rights. However, obstacles remain to realising a real transformation of tourism into an RPI industry

Contrary to common belief, this year is not about creating events and celebrations with short-term focus. It is about making long-term commitments that will transform tourism to a Real People Impact RPI industry.

Therefore, if significant gains are going to be made from IYE2017, nations must put in place systems that will contribute to ending tourism as we know it. . Focus must shift to ethical people engagement. This will call for bold actions by all to confront and deal with obstacles. What are some of these obstacles

 Exclusive Tourism

Sustainable tourism will not be realised if tourism remains exclusive. Tourism has become increasingly exclusive, locking out residents and/or, host communities from places and resources. Here in Kenya, our beaches stand out. Access to beaches, which should have been public areas, have been restricted, through exclusionist systems, perpetuated by capitalist tendencies, in the name of enhancing guest experiences. The old ways of doing tourism assume tourists do not want to interact with Properly designed host and guest interaction can enhance visitor experience

Parks are other examples of exclusive tourism. History has confirmed that locking out host community’s form interacting with parks has not saved our wildlife. Reports indicate that Kenya has lost more than 40% of our wildlife in 40 years despite running efficient exclusionist park systems. Yet studies show that integrating managed livestock grazing in parks can yield positive results.

Other forms of exclusion are manifested in designs that do not consider people with disabilities. They are excluded for using or working in these facilities by the design

Unfair labour practices

It is not enough that tourism creates jobs. It must create reliable work programs that respect employee rights. Unfair labour practices is, a problem among unconscious tourism businesses. Two forms of injustices define unfair labour practices in tourism

  • Season-based employment, which deny employees benefits associated with continuous long-term employment. In areas where tourism is seasonal, companies are known to release employees, with no pay, during low season. Most employees can be described as casual labourers
  • Denial of right to belong to a union. Most employers in tourism deny their workers the right to join unions. This is made easy because a majority of their staff fall in the casual labour group and the rest are considered management.

The consequence of season based contracts and denial of rights to belong to unions is low wages and poverty. How else can tourism explain high levels of poverty in established tourism destinations, where tourism in the key economic activity?

Leakages

Persistent poverty in established tourism destinations in developing countries can also be attributed to high levels of leakages of tourism income. When there are no linkages between formal tourism sector and local economy, leakages occur. The percentages of leakages are high where there is limited capacity by local economy to deliver goods and services required by visitors. The importation of these goods and services reduces the amount of tourism income left in the local economy. As part of transforming tourism towards sustainability the overall tourism strategy of nations must provide for skills development and creation of linkages

Irresponsible Consumption

Irresponsible consumption is an obstacle to transforming tourism to a Real People Impact (RPI) industry. Irresponsible consumption patterns in tourism are characterised by unwillingness to pay competitive prices for services and products procured from local areas, buying from brokers who exploit local producers instead of building capacity of local producers to attain consistency in supply and appropriate quality. Lack of attention to supply chain may result in irresponsible consumption if goods and service are produced from forced or child labour. Worst example of irresponsible consumption involve tourism denying local people access to water by ‘acquiring” the only reliable dry-season source of water available to the community so visitors can have unlimited access while people and their animals trek for kilometres in search of water. For real transformation, consumption patterns that reduce the quality of life of local people, or threaten their livelihoods must be avoided.

According to STTA, this should be the agenda for 2017:

Businesses should make new commitments to sustainable tourism by developing strategies and plans and setting specific goals.

  • Tourism membership organisations should up their game, and extend their lobbying powers to compel their members and state to respond to call for sustainable tourism.
  • It is the year for Destination Marketing Organisations to hand over power to local communities, and residents so they can create experiences for travellers.
  • It is the year for investors to relook their partnerships and/or create effective partnership-based linkages with host communities
  • It is the year for tourism operators to review the distribution of tourism towards a more fair and equitable systems that minimise leakages
  • It is the year for public regulators to pay attention to positive impacts generated by tourism instead of focusing on numbers and revenue
  • Regulators should come up with bold and disruptive sustainable tourism strategies to secure tourism into the future
  • It is the year for sustainable tourism assessors to return credibility to certification programs by recognising and rewarding impact, not cost cutting measures and documented intentions
  • It is the year for financing organisations to include sustainability considerations in their eligibility criteria
  • It is the year to end Green-washing.

 

It is the year to end to tourism, as we know it

Green Tourism Summit 2017- 13th-15th June 2017. Call for Speakers & Delegates

3rd Annual Green Tourism Summit – 2017

Modelling a Sustainable Future for Tourism in East Africa

 Theme: Sustainable Tourism & SDGs

The Annual Green Tourism Summit, convened and hosted by Sustainable Travel & Tourism Agenda (STTA Kenya), will take place in Nairobi, Kenya from 13th, 14th & 15th June 2017. The Summit is a multi-stakeholder platform to inspire action towards a sustainable tourism sector in East Africa.

The 2017 Summit, is inspired by declaration of 2017 as International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development #IYSTD #IY2017, the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, the UN 17 SDGs that need urgent attention and the ranking of the East Africa states in the Global SDG Index.

The East Africa Community states are currently ranked between #120 – #128 in the Global SDG Index. For all these states, tourism is a key economic driver. Therefore, tourism must engage and get involved in the SDG dialogue as it provides an opportunity to improve the regions ranking.

The purpose of 2017 Green Tourism Summit is to identify key actions that will put tourism on track to meet the agenda of the SDGs. In order to do this, the Summit will seek to answer the following key questions:

  • What can tourism contribute towards realising the 5ps of SDGS
  • How can achievements be accelerated and challenges/ risks minimised or mitigated
  • Who needs to be involved?

This Summit is open to speakers and delegates from all over the world.

Call for speakers and Delegates is still open. Visit http://www.sttakenya.org for speaker guidelines, themes, and registration.

For further information, please contact Judy Kepher-Gona or Job Odhiambo

Sustainable Travel & Tourism Agenda

P O Box 44330- 00100

Nairobi, Kenya

Email: info@sttakenya.org

Telephone- +254 718 127 557

#IY2017studentvoicesKe – Kenyan College Students Adding their Voices to the Sustainable Tourism Agenda

Sustainable Travel & Tourism Agenda (STTA), a Kenyan founded sustainable tourism organisation, in celebration of 2017, the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development (IYSTD2017), has designed a campaign to get student voices heard. The campaign, dubbed IY17studentvoicesKe kicked off on 25th February 2017 and will continue until October 2017.

The campaign, delivered through free inter-varsity seminars, will be held each month with a different topic being tackled at each seminar. During the seminars, a moderator gives opening remarks on the topic of the day. This is followed by an interactive session where students  engage with each other and the moderator through commentaries, views, questions, and recommendations. The sessions conclude with a set of recommendations on how to take the sustainable tourism agenda forward. Students are then invited to summarise the days deliberations in 500-600 words. The best submissions receive a sponsorship the attend the Regional Green Tourism Summit, hosted by STTA, in Nairobi, June 13th-15th.

On 25th February, the discussions centred around what sustainable tourism will look like n a decade. Among other observations, the students had the following recommendations:

  • Bad governance and leadership is a threat to sustainable tourism and SDGs
  • Relevant college curriculums will play a key role in promoting sustainable tourism
  • Tourism curriculum must include skills to promote sustainable tourism
  • Product diversification is important to achieve ideals of sustainable tourism
  • Tourism linkages should not be optional. Investors should be made to commit to minimum linkages
  • Ethical labour practices are key for development in regions that depend on tourism
  • skill development for host communities to engage in tourism is key for sustainable tourism
  • Local-hood is important in promoting sustainable tourism

At the ned of all the seminars @STTAKenya will publish a special issue of student voices in Sustainable Tourism.

Add your voice to #IY17studentvoicesKe by following @STTAKenya on Facebook and Twiiter and LinkedIn

 

Sustainable Year of Tourism launched alongside FITUR in Madrid

Sustainability is the future of tourism. Get involved- Get engaged

ATC News by Prof. Wolfgang H. Thome

SUSTAINABILITY THE KEY FOR FUTURE GROWTH OF THE TOURISM INDUSTRY

(Posted 20th January 2017)

Nearly 600 participants attended yesterday the Official Launch of the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development 2017. The event took place in the International Tourism Fair of Spain, FITUR, and will be followed by 12 months of global actions aimed at advancing sustainable tourism contribution to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Co-presented by Max Forster, CNN, and Raquel Martínez, RTVE, the event underlined the immense socio-economic opportunities brought by the sector to all societies as well as its power to advocate for mutual understanding, peace and sustainable development worldwide.

Every day, more than three million tourists cross international borders. Every year, almost 1.2 billion people travel abroad. Tourism has become a pillar of economies, a passport to prosperity, and a transformative force for improving millions of lives. The world can and must harness…

View original post 520 more words

3rd Annual Green Tourism Summit – 2017 : Modelling a Sustainable Future for Tourism in East Africa

 

 Theme: Sustainable Tourism & SDGs

The Annual Green Tourism Summit, convened and hosted by Sustainable Travel & Tourism Agenda (STTA Kenya), will take place in Nairobi, Kenya from 13th, 14th & 15th June 2017. The Summit is a multi-stakeholder platform to inspire action towards a sustainable tourism sector in East Africa.

The 2017 Summit, is inspired by declaration of 2017 as International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development #IYSTD #IY2017, the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, the UN 17 SDGs that need urgent attention and the ranking of the East Africa states in the Global SDG Index.

The East Africa Community states are currently ranked between #120 – #128 in the Global SDG Index. For all these states, tourism is a key economic driver. Therefore, tourism must engage and get involved in the SDG dialogue as it provides an opportunity to improve the regions ranking.

“We need more than 120 reasons/ actions / solutions to move the region      upward in SDG index ranking. Any formidable response from tourism will    take concerted efforts and deliberate commitments by all, to make      changes, says Judy Kepher-Gona, Summit Host and Founder of STTA -Kenya

The purpose of 2017 Green Tourism Summit is to identify key actions that will put tourism on track to meet the agenda of the SDGs. In order to do this, the Summit will seek to answer the following key questions:

  • What can tourism contribute towards realising the 5ps of SDGS
  • How can achievements be accelerated and challenges/ risks minimised or mitigated
  • Who needs to be involved?

 

Call for speakers and Delegates is still open

For further information, please contact Judy Kepher-Gona or Job Odhiambo

Sustainable Travel & Tourism Agenda

P O Box 44330- 00100

Nairobi, Kenya

Telephone- +254 718 127 557 / +254 705 283 658

Email- info@sttakenya.org or admin@sttakenya.org

To read more on the summit, visit www.sttakenya.org

 

Unethical CSR- Fraud or Ignorance?

 

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Unethical CSR- Intentional Fraud and Ignorance?

It is a shame to write about unethical CSR in this time and age when information is readily available on what businesses can and should do for ethical CSR. Tourism in particular has hundreds of indicators, awards and certification schemes recognising all sorts of “ethical”  or”responsible” practices. The number of awards and certifications programs and the numerous guidelines available online and through subscription gives the impression that majority of businesses understand what right even when they don’t comply. However there are CSR trends that are unethical and discouraging.

There are a few disturbing actions by businesses when it comes to CSR:

  1. Purporting to support a cause without involving the primary stakeholders: More and more many businesses are adapting labels and logos of “good causes” for a day, then take hundreds of photos and share on all social platforms pretending to be engaged, but are unable to explain their exact engagement with the cause.This happens when they fail to engage with primary stakeholders and interest groups therefore lack understanding and knowledge on how to effectively support the cause. Sometimes its deliberate to gain social capital. When  a business takes advantage of a good cause like breast cancer awareness month, or world diabetes day, or world elephant day and earth day, to attract attention of clients without having any tangible plan for the cause, this is unethicl and amounts to CSR fraud.
  2. Lack of public disclosure on what company has committed to specific CSR: Like the name clearly states, CSR is a “public-good” action. It is therefore expected that whoever engages in it will willingly disclose their investment on ‘public good”.Best practice would be to disclose the expected investment in advance and then corroborate the budget with actual investment in public reports. Few businesses are able to disclose their CSR investments before or after an intervention.  This failure to disclose is unethical and  amounts to CSR fraud
  3. Mixing funds from CSR Campaigns with business funds: Travellers philanthropy is one of the most abused concepts in tourism. Tourism businesses raise funds from philanthropic travellers for “public good” projects without having separate systems to manage the funds. These businesses end up using some of the funds to support their commercial operations. This co-mingling of funds results in CSR fraud
  4. Producing non-specific CSR Reports: Some businesses do not document their CSR activities, especially the financial aspects, systematically. Lack of proper documentation means they cannot produce effective financial and narrative reports. These kind of reports are prevents interest groups and stakeholders from asking questions. The businesses is the ultimate winner.

Suffice to say that the CSR fraud in tourism is perpetuated by awards and certification schemes that lack capacity and resources to verify claims made by businesses in award and certification application forms. Awards are behaving like  cheer-leaders who encourage the players to win but have no details on the rules of the game.

Change will be achieved through education and learning. Until then, green washing continues, preventing tourism from making an impact in the sustainable development arena.

@GonaJudy October 2016