Corporate Social Responsibility for Nature Tourism along the coast of Jalisco. 1. Introduction Past misconceptions about tourism as an environmentally benign industry have led to a poor and slow integration of responsible environmental and social considerations into tourism planning and development. It was not until the late 1980s that the industry began to address this issue, and acknowledged the importance of sustainable tourism as the industry's new direction. The suggestion that alternative tourism was the answer for all negative impacts of tourism between the late 1980s and early 1990s was later found to be flawed. Subsequently, there arose the need for a new way of thinking: namely that sustainable tourism requires a collective and conscious effort on the part of all tourism businesses, governmental policymakers and planners, as well as the key stakeholders, to prioritize environmental and social issues in their daily undertakings. In succeeding years it would be recognized that the tourism industry, particularly hotels as a key tourism business, needed to deal with its environmental and social obligations (Kasim, 2006). Although nature tourism had been suggested, since it‟s earliest years, as a more responsible form of tourism, few studies have been carried out to demonstrate this. There are several definitions of nature tourism, but most of them agree that it is a form of tourism with a strong dependence on nature, and is concerned with social and natural resource conservation within the area where tourism activity takes place. Nature tourism is defined by SECTUR (2007) as those trips designed to imbue recreational activities, that are in direct contact with expressions of nature and culture, with a positive attitude and a commitment to participate in its conservation. In Mexico, tourism has become a priority activity and a strategic sector of the economy, and in this context nature tourism has been heavily promoted in a variety of rural areas of the country. The purpose is to create and strengthen small and medium local organizations, which have a greater social and environmental responsibility. The main achievement of nature tourism has been with respect to environmental issues, as this sector has played a successful role in promoting changes of rationality among the inhabitants of the localities with respect to the importance of ecosystems preservation. Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) can be defined as the active and voluntary organizations‟ contribution to social, economic, and environmental improvement that enhances their competitive position and market value. It includes the positive impacts that these practices generate in different areas with which a company has a relationship (Alea-García, 2007). Critics and proponents of CSR still debate a number of related concerns, ranging from Milton Friedman‟s ideas (1970) about freedom, to neoliberal concepts, including the relationship to the fundamental purpose, nature of business and questionable motives for engaging in CSR (Nocera, 2006). However, in general, the business world outside of Mexico has changed its conceptualization about the objectives to be pursued, from an exclusively economic mission to a socioeconomic one with a serious moral responsibility to society. However, in our country, businesses small and medium sized (SMEs) still consider the core value as being one of obtaining profits. Among the challenges facing CSR in Mexico, are that it is considered a peripheral activity by the business organization and often confused with philanthropy. Reporting on sustainability performance is now an important way for organizations to manage their impact on sustainable development as it is widely accepted that organizations have not only a responsibility but also a great ability to exert positive change on the state of the world‟s economic, environmental and social conditions. The CSR concept encompasses a set of practices, strategies and business management systems that seek a new balance between economic, environmental and social dimensions. There are many ways to measure the CSR (Correa, Flynn and Amit, 2004), but one of the most recent efforts in this respect was performed between 2004 and 2007 by Confederació de Cooperatives de Catalunya, who developed the RSE.COOP program, a pilot project designed to adapt the cooperative economy to structural economic change. It involved the revaluation of Social Responsibility in Spain, using a process that created the ADVALUA brand to identify those companies that implement social responsibility policies. The coastal area of Jalisco State, which is over 300 km in length, is divided in five municipalities all of which are characterized by high migration. Most of them are rural and are geared to Puerto Vallarta at the north with its extensive tourism development. Chávez-Dagostino et al. (2011) identified more than 50 tourism- oriented SMEs in the region. In order to analyze the current state and impacts of nature tourism on the coast of Jalisco in Mexico, the strength of CSR was assessed in selected nature tourism SMEs. 2. Method Five nature tourism SMEs were selected and included two cooperative organizations1, one of these an ejido2. The heads of the organizations were interviewed and responded to a set of 14 questions prepared according to the basic assessment proposed by RSE.COOP (2007) program (Table 1). A database was developed and processed using ADVALUA software that yielded results in the economic, social and environmental dimensions. The working group assigned a score for each item from 0-3, where 0 means “absence” and 3 “absolutely”. The total corporation score and score per area were calculated by sum of scored items 1 Social organization composed of workers with common interests based on principles of solidarity and mutual assistance to satisfy the collective needs through economic activity (DOF, 1994). 2 Ejido is an used term by the Mexican agrarian law to mean all land of ”communal property ” that receives through land distribution, a core group of people through a process called “dotación” and then compared. Table 1. CSR questionnaire structure AREA QUESTION. The organization… 1. has a formal statement of its values , mission, vision and long-term objectives and a systematic control of them? E 2. prioritize purchases of products made locally and has a policy regarding such purchases? C O 3. has a quality management system, which incorporates SR ? N 4. have a marketing plan and control their products / services and the communications it makes to its stakeholders, O besides focusing its efforts on the generation of products / services? M I 5. keeps track of sales, destination of surplus, the distribution of debts, taxes and subsidies received, and the evolution of C the profits? E 6. has an explicit commitment to the environment, sets goals to minimize its impact? N V 7.have established mechanisms to encourage “good” waste management, water and energy? I R 8. have established mechanisms to reduce different types of pollution? O N. 9. encourages participation, information and training of people in the process of environmental improvement? 10. establishes channels of communication with its stakeholders to promote transparency? S 11. have defined corporate values and ethical principles of action for each stakeholder group to guide its work in the O short and long term? C 12. has incorporated mechanisms to ensure equality in recruitment, hiring, training, promotion and remuneration? I A 13. strives for local community development through strategies and active participation? L 14. cares about its customers beyond the purely legal or binding aspects? 3. Results Ecotours de Mexico is a private ecotourism enterprise, created in 1996, with 17 workers located in the municipality of Puerto Vallarta. It obtained 32 out of 42 points (high level) in CSR evaluation, and its best performance was in the environmental area followed by the economic sector. Ecotours offers whale and dolphin watching, turtle camp activities, adventures with crocodiles, as well as diving, and is guided by a team of biologists and naturalists (Figure 1, Table 2). El Cielito hotel-cabins in the municipality of Cabo Corrientes, is an ecological cooperative, with 34 partners using the organizational structure of an ejido. It began offering tourist services in 2006. El Cielito offers accommodation and a restaurant overlooking the sea, a walk through the town and beach area, participation in the turtle camp activities and snorkeling, although most activities take place at the request of customers. The score obtained in the evaluation was 30 (medium level) and its best performance was in the social area and its worst with respect to the environment. Rancho Andrea opened in 2000 with the help of a federal grant. It now operates with five people and offers kayaking, swimming, water-skiing, fishing and canoeing near the dam Cajón de Peñas, as well as horseback riding and bird watching in the municipality of Tomatlán. The total score obtained was 28 (medium level) and the enterprise‟s best performance was within the social area. Ecoadventures is dedicated to organizing camping travel groups at low cost in Cadillac Ranch near Barra de Navidad. The operation offers rappel, boat rides, flora and fauna observation, scuba diving and snorkeling, as well as hiking in rivers and mangroves. It opened in 2000, is private company, and operates with just one person for most of the year. Its score was 34 and this gave it the highest ranking of the five SMEs investigated; its poorest performance was in economic area. SCST Miguel López de Legazpi is a 29-partner cooperative, and has offered tourism activities since year 2000. It is primarily dedicated to boat rentals, giving rides to bird watching, marine life and fishing in the bay of Barra de Navidad. Its CSR score was the lowest of all (23 points), which puts it very near to a „bad„ performance. Its worst performance was in the economic and environmental sectors. Figure 1. CSR score obtained for each question by organizations. Table 2. Performance and percentage obtained by area and corporation. High Medium Bad i g h The social area (questions10-14) got the highest total score if compared to M environment and economic areas that respectively obtained 84%, 66% and 58% e (Tables 1, 2; Fig. 1). The lowest scores were given to questions 5 and 7, both as a d result of a lack of experience and training, as well as the perception that these i actions were irrelevant for three of the SMEs. u The highest scores in the social area were to questions 10 and 13. In these m instances, Ecotours de Mexico scores poorly, because it is located within Puerto Vallarta, whereas the other operations are located in small villages where B interaction with the local community is easier. a d Esrock y Leichty (1998) found a correlation between the size of a company and the extent it promotes SR. This finding cannot explain why Ecoadventures got the best CSR score with just one worker, nor why SCST Miguel López (the second in size by the number of workers) obtained the lowest value. As predicted, the cooperatives had high performance in the social area. 4. Conclusions CSR in Jalisco coast area is best represented by the social actions of the SMEs followed by environmental and economical activities. An unexpected result was that the cooperatives in general demonstrated a lower level of SR than the private organizations. Generally there was a shortage of good practices demonstrated by the responses of the organizations to the economic questions. Nature tourism is not creating many jobs in the coast of Jalisco and gender equity is not existent, as males constitute the majority in most of the SMEs evaluated. There was only a medium performance indicated in environment area. This could threaten the reduction of negative impacts generated by nature tourism. 5. References - Alea-García, A. (2007). Responsabilidad social empresarial. Su contribución al desarrollo sostenible. Revista Futuros No. 17, Vol. V. http://www.revistafuturos.info Retrieved 2011-02-02. - Correa, M.E., Flynn, S. & Amit, A. (2007).Responsabilidad social corporativa en América Latina: una visión empresarial. Serie Medio Ambiente y Desarrollo No. 85. División de Desarrollo Sostenible y Asentamientos Humanos, CEPAL, Santiago de Chile - Chávez-Dagostino, R.M., Gómez, T., Bravo, V. & , Dávalos, H. (2011). Impacto de las empresas de turismo de naturaleza en la costa de Jalisco. Informe Técnico final COECyTJAL-UDG. - DOF (1994). Ley General de Sociedades Cooperativas. Título I, Art. 2. H. Congreso de la Unión. - Esrock, S. L. y Leichty, G. B. (1998). Social responsibility and Corporate Web Pages: Self Presentation or Agenda Setting, Public Relation Review, Vol. 24, No. 3, Fall, 305‐319. - Frankental, P. (2001). Corporate Social Responsibility‐ a PR Invention? Corporate Communications, 6(1), 18‐23. - Friedman, M. (1970). The Social Responsibility of Business is to increase its Profits. The New York Times Magazine, September 13. http://www.nytimes.com/magazine Retrieved 2008-03-07 - Kasim, A. (2006). The Need for Business Environmental and Social Responsibility in the Tourism Industry. International Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Administration, 7 (1), 1 – 22. - Nocera, J. (2006). The Paradoxes of Businesses as Do-Gooders. Business, The New York Times, November 11. http://www.nytimes.com/ Retrieved 2011-03-09 - SECTUR (2007). Elementos metodológicos para la evaluación del impacto del turismo de naturaleza en México. - Responsabilitat Social de les empreses en l’economia Cooperativa (RSE.COOP) (2007). Manual para el tutor del programa RSE.COOP. Fons Social Europeu- Union Europea/EQUAL.
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