Tourism partnerships are a well-researched area; however, emphasis is often placed on developing partnerships in either rural or urban contexts. Accordingly, there has been less attention paid to the integration of partnerships between settings. Bramwell and Lane (2000) remind us that vertical and horizontal integration in tourism operations is a rarity given that the industry comprises individually owned airlines, hotels and various other tourism products, sometimes within one region. Partnerships are interactions or ‘arrangements devoted to some common end among otherwise independent organizations’ (Selin and Chavez, 1995, p. 844). Collaborative approaches, according to Bramwell and Lane (2000), can help to further the core principles of sustainable development. Collaboration between urban and rural contexts can therefore result in an important force.
Collaboration among an array of stakeholders has the opportunity to promote varied natural, built and human resources that require protection. Partnerships can also democratize decision-making and empower participants (Bramwell and Lane, 2000). Ultimately, collaborative arrangements among stakeholders have the ability to concentrate on a variety of areas reflecting mutual interests. However, Austin et al. (2016) found that partnership working is complicated and can be ineffective. Specifically, the authors determined that there are governance factors that stakeholders have a high degree of control over, including appointing actors and defining roles, shared priorities and pooling resources, and governing documents and evaluations. Furthermore, the authors found three behavioural factors that stakeholders have a low degree of control over, such as quality of leadership, effectiveness of actor interactions and personality factors. Austin et al. (2016) found it was important for people to understand the reason for their inclusion in the partnership and for transparency between actors. It was established that long-term partnerships need to be dynamic and open to inviting new actors with different ideas.
Sustainability necessitates ‘modifications to human society so as to reduce its aggregate impacts’ (Buckley, 2012, p. 529). Clearly, from the perspective of businesses, impact is determined by the size, structure and value set. A single measurement to assess the sustainability of tourism businesses is currently lacking, potentially due to the difficulties in defining sustainability as a concept and determining what should be taken into consideration (Buckley, 2012). Tourism businesses have been criticized for adopting only those practices that have the potential to boost their profits, create public relations opportunities (Sheldon and Park, 2011) or comply with legal requirements (Buckley, 2012). Discussions in the area of sustainable tourism lack new ideas and progress (Bramwell and Lane, 2005; Sharpley, 2009) and there is a lack of evidence demonstrating the implementation of sustainable tourism in practice (e.g. Ruhanen et al., 2015), post the publication of the Brundtland Report. Such criticisms support a case study with the aim of investigating the various practices and initiatives implemented by FHR to support their sustainability goals. Specifically, the chapter will examine the FHR partnerships and programmes that facilitate IRT and their corporate sustainability (CS) business approach.