Tourism organisations set social objectives to show that they are a good employer or to develop a good relationship with the community where they operate. Social objectives are more about the welfare of employees and being a good neighbour than they are about making a profit.
At the same time, tourism organisations are increasingly aware of what is known as ethical trading. For example, should a theme park sell items of clothing from Third World countries which has been made using child labour or in a ‘sweatshop’ factory? Should a hotel provide food such as chicken which has been produced by factory farming? Should a tour operator offer excursions which involve exploitation of the local people?
Consider the different views of the representatives of tourism organisations expressed below. Have a discussion or debate with your classmates about the different opinions.
The attraction owner
I have to make as much profit as possible. I buy cheap T shirts from abroad and have our logo printed on them. They sell well and I don’t care where they are made. I know some of the souvenirs are a bit tacky, but we make a good profit on them.
We employ an agency to do our cleaning overnight. I don’t really bother about where they get their labour from. They’re cheap and they do a good job. It’s cheaper than me employing cleaners.
We care about our image and reputation with our customers and the local community. Most of what we sell in our souvenir shop is produced locally and reflects local culture. It costs a bit more and I know that some customers complain about the prices.
Most of our cleaners are the sons and daughters of our permanent staff. We need more labour in the summer high season so we are able to put some extra money into the pockets of families who work for us.
We do our best to ensure that our food is sourced from local producers wherever possible. We inform our guests and customers about the farms from which meat and other produce has been purchased.
We also have a coffee shop which we staff. We ensure that our coffee and tea is ‘fair trade’ and we offer cakes and pastries produced by a local independent baker.
The tour operator
Most of our customers want to stay in hotels where they can eat food they are familiar with and drink brands of beer and lager they recognise. I know that the hotels cut corners where they can with the quality of the food, but nobody seems to complain. We tend to employ staff from the UK because it solves the language problem and we don’t have to train them.
Spanish and flamenco nights are always popular. I’m not sure that all the dancers are Spanish – but it’s not my problem. We get a good commission because our clients tend to drink a lot.
We do what we can to ensure that our clients have the opportunity to experience the food, drink and culture of the region in which they are staying. Hotels are required to provide local dishes and offer local wines. We tend to choose hotels for our clients where a high proportion of the staff are from the local community.
Our excursion packages tend to feature local cultural attractions and historic monuments. We use local guides which provide our clients with information about the region which they find interesting.
Having discussed or debated the above statements, write a short essay entitled ‘Ethical Issues for Tourism Organisations’.
In the table below is a list of items which a theme park could set as social objectives. Read through the list and tick 5 objectives which you consider to be the most important. Discuss your choices with your classmates.
Our objective over the next year will be to:
- Ensure that all our employees are paid 50p per hour more than the minimum wage.
- Provide all our permanent staff with 5 days of training.
- Employ 5 new staff with additional or special needs.
- Ensure that for all our permanent employees, their family members are provided with free annual passes.
- Ensure that at least 50% of the food sold on site will be produced in the local area.
- Ensure that there is no noise from the park after 11 pm at night.
- Ensure that all souvenirs are produced ethically and not employing child labour.
- Ensure that all applicants from the local area are invited for interview.
- Employ at least 10 apprentices from the local area.
- Ensure that all employees working after 9pm at night are provided with free transport home.
- Ensure that all our permanent staff are offered free private medical cover.
- provide all our staff with a canteen facility with subsidised meals.
Explain how you decided on your 5 choices.