Six noteworthy travel industry CSR initiatives

14 Jun 2017 by Craig Bright
Coral nursery at The Andaman, A Luxury Collection Hotel, Langkawi

For anyone who’s been compelled to endure mandatory teambuilding, corporate social responsibility (or CSR as it’s usually referred to) is likely to elicit a languid groan.

But that’s not to say that there aren’t interesting ways for companies to get involved with providing a social service. And to its credit, the travel industry is increasingly taking a more proactive stance on the subject.

Here are just a few ways airlines and hotels have recently given back:

Mahouts wash elephants in a river during the elephant bathing time at Mae Sa Elephant Camp, near Chiang Mai city in Northern Thailand

Wildlife trafficking prevention

China Airlines, Malaysia Airlines, Philippine Airlines and Singapore Airlines all signed the United for Wildlife Transport Taskforce Buckingham Palace Declaration earlier this month, aimed at preventing the trafficking and transportation of illegal wildlife and products.

As signatories of the declaration, the airlines will provide staff training aimed at identifying and reporting suspected illegal wildlife and adopting a zero-tolerance policy.

“The illegal wildlife trade threatens the survival of many iconic species, and local communities that depend on nature-based tourism,” said International Air Transport Association (IATA) director general and CEO, Alexandre de Juniac. “Airlines can play an important role in helping the authorities stamp our this appalling trade.”

The declaration currently has almost 40 airlines on board as signatories.;;

Tree planting

Korean Air has committed to plant trees in Mongolia for the next 14 years, turning a previously deserted area at Baganuur (150km east of the capital Ulaanbaatar) into an area that now has more than 110,000 trees planted.

Last month, more than 200 employees along with 600 local residents took part in planting trees in what has since been named the “Korean Air Forest”. Covering 440,000sqm, the area now features mainly poplar trees, Siberian elm and sea buckthorn, the fruit of which is used in vitamin drinks.

Coral farming

From planting trees to planting coral – Hawaii-based Outrigger Resorts has set down nearly 100 football fields’ worth of coral over the past two years ever since it began its “Ozone” initiative. Aimed at enabling guests to get involved with sustainability projects, Ozone includes activities ranging from coral planting in Fiji to visiting marine rehabilitation centres in Thailand.

This month, to mark World Oceans Month, the hotel group’s properties are running activities ranging from educational tours of marine biological centres, to planting coconut trees, cleaning beaches, and creating coral nurseries, among others.

First-time flyers

Marking the 20th anniversary of the Hong Kong handover to China, Cathay Pacific took around 100 local children and their families on their first plane ride. Lasting 90 minutes (departing and landing back in Hong Kong), the B777-300 flight included a total of 230 guests along with some 60 volunteers from the airline including cockpit and cabin crew.

The children who participated were selected through a writing competition arranged by the Hong Kong Council of Social Service detailing how they had successfully overcome life challenges.

“As the city’s leading home carrier, Cathay Pacific is proud to have grown together with Hong Kong and its people for over seven decades,” said CEO Rupert Hogg. “The theme of this year’s Community Flight is ‘Inspiring Strength through Togetherness’, with the young participants being encouraged to strive together with determination in order to achieve their goals and follow their dreams.”

Organic meets

“Sustainability” is a popular buzzword in the corporate meetings sector at the moment, and rightly so – meetings can be an incredible source of waste when it comes to unused food, water, electricity, paper and plastic bottles.

Many companies now offer sustainable initiatives as part of their meetings offerings, and following the recent launch of its Blue Planet for Meetings plan, Radisson Blu calculates the carbon footprint of an event and offsets it through projects in Guatemala, Malawi and India focused on water sustainability.

“Water sustainability is an important commitment from Radisson Blu, and we are delighted to partner with First Climate on dedicated water projects that will have a positive impact on communities as we help provide safe drinking water,” said Carlson Rezidor’s vice president of responsible business, Inge Hujibrechts.

Females of the future

As part of its efforts to develop future female leaders, Marriott International partnered with the Asian University for Women earlier this month, seeing 50 volunteers serve as mentors to the university’s students. The initiative will also see six students able to experience working with the hotel group in Hong Kong and its locations around south Asia.

“As a business that prides itself on its diverse talent, we’re honoured to help the next generation of women leaders achieve their full potential,” said Peggy Fang Roe, chief sales and marketing officer for Marriott International Asia Pacific. “Having seen first-hand how the Asian University for Women transforms the lives of its students, we’re thrilled to help even more young women gain the skills and confidence they need to succeed.”;

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