n African Journal of Business and Economic Research - Assessing the economic implications of business social responsibility and sustainability in South Africa’s tourism industry

Volume 14 Number 4
  • ISSN : 1750-4554
  • E-ISSN: 1750-4562


While Business Social Responsibility (BSR) has received much attention in the tourism industry, its economic implications and sustainability are rarely assessed. This is because there is an assumption that all tourism BSR activities contribute positively to the country’s economic development. In essence, the tourism industry is dominated by multi-international companies which often have activities which do not promote sustainable tourism development. These big corporations dictate the tourism industry especially in the developing countries, they use imported raw materials and equipment, bring along their own experts and rarely transfer skills to locals. The study was proposed to assess the economic implications and sustainability of BSR activities in the South African tourism industry. The researchers surveyed 402 employees and 50 owners in the tourism industry in the two municipalities in the Western Cape Province. A total of 307 tourism businesses, which were purposely selected, clustered and stratified were identified. The results were interpreted using critical realism, stakeholder and neo-liberalism frameworks. The study found few activities were directed to economic activities such as the use of locally produced products and employment, while social and environmental dimensions dominated. The tourism multiplier effect is achieved through activities such as employees’ children education support. Local businesses are more willing to take responsibility for their economic consequences, while staff with a high level of education were more transparent with their businesses’ BSR economic activities. Due to the nature of the tourism industry in South Africa, free trade enabled the dominance of transnational corporations TNCs) and multinational corporations (MNCs). Their economic activities need to be regulated within the concept of BSR.

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