Corporate Social Responsibility in the Tourism Industry. Lessons from Communities Surrounding Great Zimbabwe Monuments

Article excerpt

Introduction

The study aims at unpacking the political economy associated with vibrant tourism industries in communities surrounding Great Zimbabwe monuments. This study examines two phenomena that have been popular in development discourse: tourism and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). Discussion of these phenomena is common, tackled from different disciplines, including but not limited to economics, anthropology, sociology and geography. Tourism can be understood as an activity which entails "temporary visitors staying at least twenty-four hours in the country visited and the purpose of whose journey can be classified under one of the following headings: (a) leisure (b) business" (IUOTO, 1963, p.14). Tourism in this paper is conceptualized as a service industry that provides marketing, transport, accommodation and other related services to satisfy the needs of tourists. As an industry, it creates a tourism-based economy for the local communities whose livelihood activities are shaped, based, entirely linked and dependent on the activities of the tourism industries.

This ethnographic study sought to examine the contribution of CSR on the livelihoods of people domiciled in communities surrounding the Great Zimbabwe monuments. It also explores the level of participation of the local people in the CSR activities initiated by tourism players in the area. In addressing the aforementioned objectives, the study answers the following questions:

a) To what extent are the local communities benefitting from CRS activities done by tourism stakeholders?

b) How and at what levels are the local people participating in the CRS activities?

Review of literature

As early as 1992, at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development it was recognized that tourism is an important driver in community development (Frey and George, 2010). Kalikawe (2001) noted that tourism is pivotal to the development processes in Botswana. In 1997, tourism contributed 5 percent to the 1996/1997 GDP in Botswana. Further, Kalikawe estimates that close to P1.1 billion was spent by the tourists who visited Botswana. Ross and Wall (1999) note that Ecotourism brings forth a number of economic opportunities to the receiving area, thus arguing in line with the general belief that tourism boosts the local economy and its trickling down effects can be witnessed in surrounding communities and at grassroots levels. Furthermore, tourism is a major foreign currency earner for most developing countries. In Costa Rica, tourism was the third highest source of foreign currency, bringing in more than US$ 331 million (CIDA, 1995). Important as it seems, such analysis adopts a broader national approach that neglects contributions of the tourism industry to the local communities they operate in.

In South Africa, Spenceley (2007) captures the activities of tourist enterprises engaging in RTM. Theses operators developed infrastructure, opened avenues for locals to engage in economic activities, education and employment creation; environmentally these firms initiated conservation projects. Argandona (2010) notes that several actors in tourism give back to their respective communities in a number of ways. Hoteles Husa offers scholarships to employees' children, while Hoteles Hesperia offers lower price accommodation for local NGOs and foundations. Cruise Line involved in transportation donates money to charity organizations. Some companies give back to local communities through education and advocacy against sex tourism involving children, environmental awareness and construction of residential areas to promote residential or real estate tourism (Mazon, 2002, see also www.yci.org). The Banyan Tree resorts have encouraged local artisans in most Asian rural communities to curve crafts that are marketed and sold at the hotel curio shop. Local craftsmen are given preferences to make furniture used in these hotels, thus the local communities draws benefits from the initiative of the Banyan Tree Resort (www. …