Sustainability and Social Responsibility are are the driving force behind the Top 5 trends in restaurants in the U.S. according to the National Restaurant Association. The top food trends, according to the National Restaurant Association Culinary Forecast 2015 are locally sourced meat, seafood and produce and environmental sustainability.
Why do DMO managers need to know this ? Because this trend is helping them meet their goals of improving the economic and social well being of their destination communities.
We are all becoming familiar with infographics touting the economic benefits of tourism. An important way to improve the economic impact is to reduce what economists call “leakage” – the money that leaves the community. Locally sourced restaurants and “farm to table” restaurants keep money in the community ! The money tourists spend at “farm to table” restaurants does “leak away” – it stays close to home. These trends is helping raise the economic impact of tourism in many communities.
DMO managers spend a lot of time attracting new visitors to their destination – but strategies to improve the economic impact of visitors as less common. Leveraging these important trends is a way that progressive DMO management can get the most for their communities from visitor dollars.
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is one of the key drivers of sustainable tourism. The tourism system involves many actors all working to deliver a customer experience. There is little in the way of “top down, command and control” in tourism. So – without the active participation of companies – and the managers that run those companies – it is difficult to imagine the tourism system becoming more sustainable.
In a recent study led by Diana Chan Yu, we examined the drivers of Corporate Social Responsibility in hotels in China. A couple of findings stood out to me:
- Confucianism and commitments to a Harmonious Society provide a solid foundation for CSR in China.
- CSR often starts close to home – with stakeholders that are critical to the company’s operation. Many CSR activities involve staff members and the local community.
- Finally, while many hoteliers don’t necessarily call their activities “CSR or Corporate Social Responsibility” they actively engage in CSR activities – from supporting local environmental initiatives to supporting staff (beyond the letter of the law).
To see the full study – click here.
Flipping through the pages of most high end consumer travel magazines – Travel and Leisure, Conde Nast Travel and the like – exposes the curious to some of the most luxurious brands on the planet. These magazines are the showcases for some of today’s most upmarket consumer brands and the content of the magazines – both the editorial and the advertising – reflect the interests of these affluent readers. At first glance- it may seem that these interests are exclusively self centered but a closer examination shows that issues of sustainability and responsible tourism are receiving increasing coverage.
Voluntourism – where visitors volunteer for charities and NGOs in the destination – has been an important trend in recent years . It is great to see Conde Nast Traveler’s Dorinda Elliott covering voluntourism in a recent edition. I particularly like that Dorinda article recognizes the challenges of voluntourism.
I am a strong believer that most acts of charity do more good than harm. Nevertheless unintended consequences – even when the motives are pure – need to be carefully considered. Dorinda follows her main article with an empowering sidebar of recommendations for people considering spending part their vacation helping others. Bravo !
There is real skepticism that companies can do well and do good. When discussion turns to the socially responsible actions of a company it seems inevitable that the motives of the company will be brought into question. The typical comment goes something like ” sure – they are the greenest company around… but its just so they can save money’. And yet such a situation has be to one an examples of a win-win for the company and the environment.
One of the “new” faces of corporate social responsibility is Sir Richard Branson. He is a successful entrepreneur with a commitment to doing good and making money while he does it. His “screw it, just do it” attitude for solving problems is getting a fair bit of airplay. Here’s a link to the article from today’s ‘Marketplace” on NPR.
Branson on CSR on NPR