Research Claims Industry Fails to Take Sustainability Seriously

New research published by Leeds Metropolitan University claims that the cruise industry is ignoring their corporate social responsibility towards the environment, society and the destinations they visit.

The study, published this month in the journal Tourism Management, analyzes what it calls the industry’s lack of corporate social disclosure, and ranks companies on their corporate social responsibility reports and websites to provide the first cruise sector sustainability reporting index.

Sixty five percent of 80 cruise companies worldwide which were analyzed do not mention corporate social responsibility on their websites, and only 12 brands publish corporate social reports- belonging to only four companies: Carnival Corporation, Royal Caribbean International, TUI and Disney Cruises, according to the study.

Dr Xavier Font, the lead author from Leeds Metropolitan University, explained: “Most companies report soft data, such as statements from their CEOs, that are easy to copy and do not show real change.

“Companies mostly report on their corporate vision and strategy, their credentials and their governance and management systems, but they fail to report on actual performance data on many key environmental and socio-economic indicators. Reporting on emissions, effluents, waste or water is the result of eco-saving strategies and regulatory pressure. But not one of the 80 companies reports on the sustainability of the resources consumed or biodiversity actions, and few disclose their positive social or economic impact on destinations.”

According to a prepared statement from the university, the report highlights that more must be done by the cruise industry in terms of the environmental impact of cruise ship’s discharges, as cruises usually operate in highly valued costal water and marine ecosystems.

The study also examined the socio-economic impact of the cruise industry and referred to previous research which “reported evidence of frequent violation rights for disadvantaged groups including charges for medical examinations, visas, transport and administration putting cruise industry workers into a level of debt that cannot be repaid and is comparable to forced labor.”

It also noted that there is limited public data to sustain the claim that cruise industry contributes to the economy by creating jobs and contributing to the local economy of the destinations visited. In fact, low spend cruisers are considered unproductive given the costs incurred by their impact. Additionally earnings by the supply chain are limited, the study claims.

As companies report late, the statement said, the data it is based on is mostly from 2011, 2010 and 2009. With late reporting, the transparency is limited the study concluded.

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