New research by Leeds Metropolitan University reveals that the cruise industry is ignoring their corporate social responsibility towards the environment, society and the destinations they visit.
The study, published this month in the journal Tourism Management, analyses the industry’s lack of corporate social disclosure and ranks companies through analysis of their corporate social responsibility reports and websites to provide the first cruise sector sustainability reporting index.
Sixty five per cent of the 80 cruise companies worldwide which were analysed do not mention corporate social responsibility on their websites, and only 12 brands publish corporate social reports- belonging to only four companies: Carnival Corporation, Royal Caribbean International, TUI and Disney Cruises.
Dr Xavier Font, the lead author of the study from Leeds Metropolitan University explains: “Most companies report soft data, such as statements from their CEOs, that are easy to copy and do not show real change.
The report highlights that more must be done by the cruise industry in terms of the environmental impact of cruise ship’s discharges, as cruises usually operate in highly valued costal water and marine ecosystems. It is noted that some anti-fuelling coating used to mitigate the impact contain hazardous chemicals which can be harmful to marine organism. The harm from ballast water is well recognised since 1970 when the International Maritime Organization noted the negative impact of non-indigenous organisms transported in the ballast water. Since 2004 there is a Convention for the Control and Management on Ship's Ballast Water and Sediments but that has not entered into force due to the limited signing from states (only 33) until 2012.
Cruise ships that comply with legislation and are under international regulations may still discharge comminuted and disinfected sewage using systems approved by its flag administration at a distance of more than three nautical miles from shore. To be able to claim environmental responsibility, cruise companies should use an advanced system and use it consistently, not just depending on the jurisdiction.
The study also examined the socio-economic impact of the cruise industry and highlighted previous research which reported evidence of frequent violation rights for disadvantaged groups including charges for medical examinations, visas, transport and administration putting cruise industry workers into a level of debt that cannot be repaid and is comparable to forced labour.
It also noted that there is limited public data to sustain the claim that cruise industry contributes to the economy by creating jobs and contributing to the local economy of the destinations visited. In fact, low spend cruisers are considered unproductive given the costs incurred by their impact. Additionally earnings by the supply chain are limited, as the requirements for the cruise are complex, requiring larger number of forecasted supply.