The fundamental principle of a Sustainable Supply Chain (SSC) rests on collaboration between companies and their suppliers, and their willingness to link their aims and essential operational processes to create unique, international, market satisfying resources that will satisfy their customers and help them gain competitive advantage.
Companies from various sectors have come up with different strategies and tools to influence their suppliers towards better environmental and social practices. All these companies believe that no enterprise can exist independently, and the success of every enterprise depends on its supply chain partners. The nature of the strategy adopted (collaborative or forced compliance) depends upon factors such as the type of business, levels of competition, and size and influence of buyer and supplier businesses.
The most basic action that a company can take is to develop its own environmental policy or any other document with which the company can communicate its environmental goals and expectations to its suppliers.
The next common approach to SSC is gathering information that indicates the suppliers’ environmental compliance status, and on the existence and status of suppliers’ environmental management systems and the type or quality of materials used by them.
Tour Operations and SSC
Tour operators provide holiday packages comprised principally of accommodation, transport, excursion/activity providers, ground handlers, and food and craft production. A distinction is here made between mass-market and specialist operators. Mass-market operators typically sell standard beach holidays based holidays in mainstream destinations, and specialist operators typically offer niche products based on specialised activities in less mainstream destinations.
It can be argued that sustainability in tourism depends strongly on the development of better linkages between supply and demand. As intermediaries in the supply chain, tour operators are in a position to influence destination management on the supply side, and consumers on the demand side.
This requires management of environmental, socio-economic and cultural issues through the supply chain. Environmental aspects include sustainable transport development and sustainable use of resources; reducing, minimising and preventing pollution and waste (e.g. solid and liquid waste, emissions to air); conserving plants, animals, ecosystems and protected areas (biodiversity); and conserving landscapes, cultural and natural heritage. Socio-economic and cultural issues encompass a number of aspects, including contribution to the economic development and the well-being of local communities; preservation of cultural identity; respect for human rights local communities’ and indigenous peoples’ rights.
Some operators have built supply chain initiatives on the production and distribution of local sustainable food and crafts, but some work with local suppliers to promote local sourcing. For instance, local sourcing is often a key part of the product, and it also features as part of a portfolio of tourist attractions for mass operators in excursions and promotion of local bars and restaurants.
Most large hotels that have worked with local food producers have found it requires constant supervision and commitment, and success is often linked to championing of local sourcing by hotel chefs. It may also require training and technical support and investment in order to gather supplies from different producers that meet the quality and quantity required.
The key aspects in SSC initiatives depend on good working relationships with suppliers, organisational cultures that are supportive of sustainability principles, and organisational resources to invest in sustainability. Initiatives to date have focused more on setting environmental, rather than socio- economic criteria, and industry-wide approaches play an important role in encouraging and supporting implementation of SSC.
So why might a business wish to apply a sustainable tourism supply approach – what are the principal benefits?
All supply chains can be optimised using sustainable practices. Sustainability in the supply chain encapsulates a number of different priorities:
- Environmental stewardship
- Conservation of resources
- Reduction of carbon footprint
- Financial savings and viability
- Social responsibility
Managing supply chains in a sustainable manner can help businesses in not only reducing their total carbon footprint, but also in optimising their end-to-end operations to achieve:
- Improved credibility, visibility and brand reputation
- Improved access to markets
- Greater operational effectiveness leading to cost savings and profitability
We have created a free online tool to help you develop. Our training tool was developed by and with the tourism industry. This free online training covers 11 modules to complete with short quizzes at the end of each module. This tool helps you to design your own strategy in relation to your individual business needs. All you need is an internet connection.
Click here to register and start your free online training today: http://smartour.dcnet.eu/
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TOI & CELB (2003). Supply chain management for tour operators: a handbook on integrating sustainability into the tour operators’ supply chain systems. Paris, Tour Operators Initiative, Center for Environmental Leadership in Business.
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