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Corporate Sustainability as an Opportunity for Tourism Partnerships: A Case Study on Fairmont Hotels & Resorts

Karla Boluk[1]

Faculty of Applied Health Sciences, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada

Introduction

Contemporary sustainable tourism discussions are a consequence of the Brundtland Report publication in March of 1987. The World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED) (1987, p. 43) defined sustainable development as ‘development which meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs’. The Brundtland Report has clearly drawn attention to sustainability debates and played a role in influencing a number of industries striving to reconcile their impacts, including the tourism industry. The sustainable tourism concept emerged from sustainable development and is defined by UNESCO (2015) as ‘tourism that respects both local people and the traveler, cultural heritage and the environment’. Debates about what constitutes sustainable tourism, and questions regarding if it can be achieved, are questioned in the literature (e.g. Moscardo, 2008). Clearly, sustainable tourism cannot be realized without modifying mass tourism practices (Budeanu, 2005) and ensuring that large-scale tourism businesses such as travel agencies, airlines, restaurants, resorts and hotels place sustainability at the heart of their business. Accordingly, a direct result of the commonplace corporate participation in sustainability activities is that sustainability goals cannot be achieved without corporate support.

While sustainable tourism was initially perceived in opposition to mass tourism, which was blamed for all negative impacts, it was later accepted that sustainable tourism should be positioned as a goal to strive for (Inskeep, 1991); for all tourism businesses despite their size. Remarkably, discussions in the tourism literature have advanced accepting sustainable tourism as a central paradigm. However, limited attention has been paid to identifying solutions for the mass tourism industry to practise tourism more sustainably (Budeanu, 2005). This chapter will focus on some of the practices and initiatives incorporating sustainable value into an international hotel chain, Fairmont Hotels & Resorts (FHR). Literature on Integrated Rural Tourism (IRT) and tourism partnerships will be discussed in detail below as theories that may support the sustainable operation of FHR.

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