When it comes to being a leader in sustainability, business leaders need to think holistically. The supply chain of each business in the travel and tourism industry is not separate, but rather an extension – the sustainability of one company is inextricably linked to the sustainability of each and every one of the companies it works with.
Although not a new issue, supply chain sustainability is now moving up the agenda for leading tourism and travel companies. For example, in late 2015, Air New Zealand released its revised Supplier Code of Conduct which outlines best practice social, environmental, and ethical standards for over 4,500 suppliers which make up the Air New Zealand supply chain.
As Leeds Metropolitan University rightly stated in their report on Tourism Supply Chains, “tour operators have enormous influence over activities throughout the tourism supply chain, since they direct and influence the volume of tourism, the tourist destinations and facilities that are used.”
But where do you start? The daily management of often large, complex supply chains is quite the task, let alone striving to ensure they are sustainable. UN Global Compact participants actually ranked supply chain practices as “the biggest challenge to improving their sustainability performance.” So it is certainly no easy feat.
Nevertheless, the supply chain sustainability challenge can be overcome and with great rewards for those business leaders that prioritise and commit at the top level. Some initial steps that tourism businesses should take is to:
- Read the UN Global Compact Supply Chain Sustainability Practical Guide and take note of the business case on page 15.
- Check the International Tourism Partnership page dedicated to addressing Supply Chains in the industry
- Have a look at MindClick a sustainability performance measurement platform which serves as a marketplace for sustainable sourcing
- Create a Policy and or Code of Conduct which sets out some standards that you can communicate to your supply chain. Even if your focus is first on a small number of environmental criteria, this is a great start.