B. Social/Economic

B. Social/Economic
January 25, 2017 Arton Kabashi

B.1 Community Development 

Criteria: The business actively supports initiatives for social and infrastructure community development including, among others, education, health, and sanitation.

Linkages to the local community should exceed employment and economic growth through the development of the business. Opportunities should be undertaken on a regular basis to provide resources, education, training, financial assistance, or in-kind support for initiatives in accordance with community priorities to improve the local livelihoods, thereby engendering community support for operations and creating a better customer experience.

B.2 Local Employment 

Criteria: Local residents are employed, including in management positions. Training is offered as necessary.

Local hiring and training is the key to maximizing community economic benefit and fostering community involvement and integration with the business. In addition, the tourism operation establishes a long-term stable labor relationship while enhancing the local authentic character of the tourism service and product. Providing jobs at all levels of management ensures that the local population does not feel disenfranchised and can provide a sufficient dialogue between the business’ ownership and the community. The business should support programs – internal or external – that will allow employees to develop beneficial skills for upward mobility.

B.3 Fair Trade 

Criteria: Local and fair-trade services and goods are purchased by the business, where available.

Using goods and services produced locally or with “fair-trade” principles have numerous social, economic and environmental benefits:

– Supports local businesses and provide jobs;
– Higher percentage of the price paid is transferred directly to the provider of the goods and services which is then re-circulated several times in the community;
– Reduced ecological footprint due to fewer greenhouse gases being burned in the transportation of the goods;
– Fair prices and wages are received by the producers;
– The visitor experience is enhanced; and,
– Local goods and services can substantially lower costs with fewer middlemen and transportation costs.

B.4 Support Local Entrepreneurs 

Criteria: The business offers the means for local small entrepreneurs to develop and sell sustainable products that are based on the area’s nature, history, and culture (including food and drink, crafts, performance arts, agricultural products, etc.).

Programs that expose customers to the local culture and encourage the purchase of local crafts, goods and services help increase positive economic benefits to the community while engendering a sense of pride in cultural heritage. Working with local small entrepreneurs can help diversify the product, thus increasing spending and length of stay. In some cases this can include designating a specific area on the premises for use by local entrepreneurs or promoting local cultural activities that are open to the public.

B.5 Respect Local Communities 

Criteria: A code of conduct for activities in local communities has been developed, with the consent of and in collaboration with the community.

Respecting and preserving the traditions and property of local populations is an important aspect in terms of today’s globalization. Codes of conduct for tourism activities that are developed in concert with local communities, respecting the principle of prior informed consent and the right of communities to say “no” to tourism activities is key to the long term viability and sustainability of the community and its environment. Tourism businesses should develop a plan to maintain regular and open communication with community officials to create a cooperative agreement that accounts for tourist interaction with the peoples and passage through the local communities.

B.6 Exploitation 

Criteria: The business has implemented a policy against commercial exploitation, particularly of children and adolescents, including sexual exploitation.

Children, adolescents, women and minorities are particularly vulnerable to abusive labor practices, including sexual exploitation. Weak law enforcement, corruption, the Internet, ease of travel, and poverty have created an underground industry which creates devastating immediate and long term community impacts in terms of disease, pregnancies, trauma, ostracism and even death. Many codes and international initiatives within the tourism industry have appeared in recent years as a result of this growing threat. Tourism businesses can play a key role in ensuring the protection of local populations at destination by not buying products produced with child labor; not allowing use of tourism premises for sexual exploitation of minors and denouncing these practices to local authorities.

B.7 Equitable Hiring 

Criteria: The business is equitable in hiring women and local minorities, including in management positions, while restraining child labor.

While major international labor conventions and norms address discrimination and child labor, women and local minorities often have unequal access to job opportunities, particularly in management, and child labor is still pervasive in many areas. Equality in hiring policies encourages an equitable distribution of wealth and closes income gaps along gender and ethnic lines. Adherence to international guidelines concerning the employment of children ensures their education, enabling them to be future productive members of their community and enhances their quality of life.

B.8 Employee Protection 

Criteria: The international or national legal protection of employees is respected and employees are paid a living wage.

Treating workers humanely and fairly makes good business sense by establishing stable labor relationships. International and national regulation and conventions (including ILO) establish the minimum baseline for respecting worker’s rights. Wages that allow employees to afford – at minimum – provision of basic needs such as food, health care, shelter and education is critical for alleviating poverty and improving the quality of life in the local population as well as increasing productivity and employee retention.

B.9 Basic Services 

Criteria: The activities of the business do not jeopardize the provision of basic services, such as water, energy, or sanitation, to neighboring communities.

Tourism businesses can alter, disrupt or strain community infrastructure and basic services, adversely impacting local users and communities. In some cases, service providers, such as utility suppliers may favor businesses over local populations. Regular communication with local communities is required to ensure that normal business operations enhance the socioeconomic and environmental character of the destination, do not reduce services available to the community or increase their cost.