The CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) systems in organizations work in 3 fields: environmental, social and economic. If we focus on the social part, we are likely to find many hotels, destinations and businesses that are socially responsible. This consists of a strategy based on a high social commitment integrated also in the corporate communication and promotion. Both the offer and demand have to be considered in social tourism:

1) Social tourist demand. People such as retirees, handicapped, and from the base of the pyramid, for whom tourism is not easily accessible.

2) Suppliers and social tourist offer. Businesses, organizations and tourism resources prepared and with policies developed to focus on the social part of CSR.

Therefore, tourism focusing on social issues includes market segments which have difficulties in accessing the practice of tourism, and also all those public and private initiatives whose main interest is to maximize the access to tourism integrating all collectives.

At the same time, destination’s competitiveness is highly enhanced so long as this approach contributes to the generation of employment, creates sustainable and conscious tourism flows, and integrates all stakeholders by aligning them in the same direction.

Starting up social tourism initiatives entails listening actively to the affected groups. Interest groups from the tourism sector encompass the employees, tour-operators, travel agencies, hotels, local community, leisure businesses, etc. as there are more people conscious about the social and environmental impacts of the industry.

The reasons why CSR policies are developed may be various, but the interest for social tourism in these groups goes in the direction of optimizing the opportunities to create value. Actually, not caring for social issues related to tourism may end up with the loss of confidence by the stakeholders.

One of the Spanish companies standing out recently in Social Tourism is Confortel, focusing on social branding actions. The social responsibility is their competitive advantage within the hospitality industry, and this is based upon their commitment with the people. Some of the initiatives they have started up are the following:

  • Care for the well-being and hospitality towards clients
    •    Availability of services and facilities accessible to everybody
    •    Labor inclusion. Employment for handicapped people. Nowadays their staff has 40% of handicapped workers, 20% of which are directly hired by the firm.
    •    Special Centres for employment. The firm has reconverted some of its hotels to this concept: Ilunion Suites Madrid e Ilunion Valencia3.

Another of the Spanish firms developing CSR policies is Fuerte Hoteles, focusing both on its employees and its clients, and cooperating with many disadvantaged groups. The hotel chain H10 Hotels is also a reference in social tourism. Some of the actions it is working on are the following:

  •  Caritas Dining hall aid program
    •    Campaign for children’s vaccination from La Caixa Social Welfare
    •    Incorpora Program from La Caixa Social Welfare
    •    Check-in for Africa Campaign (Fundación Guné)
    •    Sleep Smart Campaign. Helping de Homeless

The Corporate Social Responsibility has to be one of the strategic lines in our businesses, destinations, organizations, etc. It brings value to our clients and to ourselves, it helps us to stand out and to be more competitive, and it allows us to walk in the direction of the new times and the current social changes.

And to sum up, it is interesting to know a report on the hospitality sector with regards to CSR initiatives based on G4 (Sustainabilty Reporting Guidelines), the new reporting standard from the “Global Reporting Iniative” (GRI). This turns out to be a contribution in terms of transparency, commitment and confidence with its stakeholders.

Interested businesses may use this Guide to elaborate sustainability reports. It is suitable for any organization of any size, sector and location. So far, some international hotel chains such as Marriott, Hilton, Starwood and Intercontinental can be found in the report.

This blogpost is from  http://www.visionesdelturismo.es/turismo-social/

Posted by Jordi Pera

Jordi Pera is an economist passionate about tourism, strategy, marketing, sustainability, business modelling and open innovation. He has international experience in marketing, intelligence research, strategy planning, business model innovation and lecturing, having developed most of his career in the tourism industry. Jordi is keen on tackling innovation and strategy challenges that require imagination, entail thoughtful analysis and are to be solved with creative solutions.

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