Where Does Personal Responsibility End and Social Responsibility Start? A Case Study of Tourism in Canada

This article deals with case study of Tourism industry in the quest for social responsibility. The case study will be of the Canada’s tourism industry and how it has been involved in CSR (Canadian Business for Social Responsibility 2002). It will give an insight of how companies have moved from personal responsibility of making profits to social responsibility in the interests of the shareholders.

The tourism sector in the Canada took off not long ago. Research has found that there are little efforts in implementing the practices of environmental management by London hotels. Irrespective of the industry’s progress, tourism firms have started to realize the negative effects of tourism to the environment (Kalisch 2002: 28). They are now aware that they should protect the very resources that have attracted tourism which is earning them an income. Companies have therefore started to be more responsible like The International Hotel Environmental Initiative (IHEI), the UK’s Travel Foundation which is international and the United Nations Tour Operators Initiative (TOI).

For instance, Canadian Mountain Holidays (CMH) is a Heli Carrier Company which is midsized. The company leads in ensuring a positive impact on the natural environment that surround them and where they operate as it is based in the Canadian Rockies. The company does not only recognize the importance of being socially responsible but also the communication of their innovative practice (Canadian Business for Social Responsibility, n.d). Through proper communication, the company has educated the stakeholders and affiliate organizations of new techniques and practices that are effective in ensuring a sustainable environmental balance.

There has been social and environment concerns by large tourist operators of late and it shows the relationships between the tourist companies and the society they interact with. The Canadian tourism is concentrated on sun, sand and sea destination. This is why the concern has been so much on the maintaining the natural environment (Canadian Business for Social Responsibility, n.d). However the industry is faced by the challenge of having no low cost airlines to the tourism destinations and only chartered flights go there. There are some stakeholders whose business affect theirs and should work closely with them to ensure positive effects for both.

The tour operators in Canada are faced by various threats which also affect the entire population which are climate change, pandemics, social unrest and terrorism (Agarwal 2002: 25-55). The climatic changes affect the tourist destinations in a major way like hurricanes ad natural occurrences. The operators are concerned about the operations during the events to ensure business continuity (Curtin and Busby 2000: 135-147). Rather, the tour operators should involve themselves in disaster preparedness and response to reduce the effects of the events on their industry which is a great CSR strategy. The other threat is pandemics like terrorists attack. Since the September 11 attack, there have been fears of terrorist attacks. The industry has however heightened security and has cooperated with stakeholders in this sector like the government as part of CSR.

There are very few companies that have a policy guideline on Corporate Social Responsibility and few published non-financial reports on their operations like health and safety, community participation, responsible accounting, environmental impact. Other operators argue that they have the CSR undertakings but do not have documentations.

The key driver of CSR is the belief in the right thing to do and their reputation which is beyond morality to business. Most of the operators claim to be involved in helping the locals to build schools, waste projects, orphanages and water projects. These initiatives are normally responding to some crisis in their locality and tourist destination (Lantos 2005: 595-630).

Another aspect is that the tour operators offer equal employment opportunity for all and have staff motivation techniques like health and safety training and initiatives focused on skill development. However, there is little done on cultural sensitivity.

Some operators are also involved in developing child labor policies the End Child Prostitution that was said to be a result of tourism, child pornography and child trafficking for sexual purposes and green office guidelines that are concerned with recycling of waste and management of water resources. They also have been involved in delivering humanitarian aid using aircrafts.

Tourism in the Canada has created employment, generated opportunities to many people, earns foreign exchange, improvement in infrastructure, reservation of the local environment and promotes the well being of the local community (Grit 2004: 97-106). However, there are several negative aspects associated with the industry partially like seasonal employment, lack of stability in jobs, low pay, and erosion of culture, inflation, environmental destruction, crime, and displacement of local people. Even though the aspects are partially influential, they contribute to a declined level of corporate and social responsibility.

The tourism industry in Canada just shows how firm move gradually from personal responsibility to social responsibility. This is because eventually, they realize the need to better the environment and the society they operate in. This is a justification of the stakeholder’s theory and the Value theories of CSR and opposed to the free market theory.

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