Sustainable Tourism and Whale Watching. A Supply or Demand Issue?

Research Paper (undergraduate), 2011

15 Pages, Grade: 2,0


Table of contents

List of Abbreviation


Background - Whale Watching

CSR- Literature Review
Code of Conduct

Methodology - Desk research /Interview
Research Question
Desk Research
Research finding





List of Abbreviation

illustration not visible in this excerpt


The number of WW companies as well as the CSR certified companies, raised up in the last years. In 2010 the first WW organization has been CSR certified. In the last years more and more ecolabels were established. There is no specific WW ecolabel yet but there is the question if a CSR certification would makes sense for the WW industry. Today, every company wants to be “green” and certified by any ecolabel. Nearly every company tries to be “green”, but most of those companies pretend to be green for a better image.[1] But why should a company get certified when lots of people do not know what the certification means. And is it necessary to be certified or do the customers have to be more sustainable?

But an important fact is, that every single ecolabel is voluntary. Today, CSR has more impact than the last years. This is called green washing[2]. Every company should have a voluntary CoC to show their customers that it is important to save the resources of the world for the future generations. Every in tourism working company should be aware that they can use the resources of a destination just as long as they also save them

The first part of the study deals with CSR focusing on the WW industry. Besides a short excurse of CoC are presented. This part focused on literature review. The second part deals with semi- structured interviews designed for this study as well as the sampling and the evaluation. The results of the semi-structured interviews should be analyzed and brought together with the literature review in the discussion. Ten respondents were interviewed about their opinion to their everyday sustainable behavior and whether sustainability is a demand or supply issue. The interviews guide can bee seen in appendix 1. These participants are reflecting the view of the demand side. The supply side (tourism industry) is presented in the literature review. This paper primarily based on the environmental part of sustainability. Sustainability and CSR will be defined in the following chapters. Besides the interviews should bring up indirectly whether a sustainable behavior in the everyday life could be transferred in the sustainable booking behavior. The paper tries to answer the question whether sustainability is a supply or demand issue with the qualitative data of the semi- structured interviews. The aim of the paper is to reflect the views of the respondents.

Background - Whale Watching

WW is fascinating many people every year. WW means in this case the observation of free-living whales and dolphins from boats, helicopters or land based. It started in early 1950’s with a land based observation point in San Diego, USA. Today, it is possible to do a WW- tour in more than 110 countries[3]. There are different types of doing WW, land based, helicopter flight, diving, via boat, aircraft and others[4]. WW became a big tourism industry in the last years. But more and more WW operators are putting whales (cetaceans) in more and more under pressure. Often, it is just a profit organization that is not very interested in animal welfare. But on the one hand the tour operator should have more interest in animal welfare but on the other hand every tourist can choose a organization on their on, so they have to make sure that the organization is reliable. Therefore certain ecolabel companies are certifying some WW operators. Ecolabels can show the customers that they are acting e.g. sustainable. But a huge problem is that most of the customers do not know what a certification is as well as how they can protect cetaceans. An example for an ecolabel is the CSR- label.

CSR- Literature Review

The number of CSR certified companies had a huge growth in the last few years[5]. This paper is based on the theory of CSR in tourism especially in the WW industry. The European Commission defined CSR as follows:

"A concept whereby companies integrate social and environmental concerns in their business operations and in their interaction with their stakeholders on a voluntary basis."[6]

The concept is to integrate all the three previously mentioned pillars of sustainability in the company. In this paper sustainability means to save all the resources for the future generations.[7] To get the CSR certification it is needed to accomplish different criteria’s. CSR contains of these different criteria’s for instance: healthy working environment, environmental protection, staff training, customer satisfaction, quality product and others.[8] But why should a company get certified if it is voluntary? There are many benefits like reducing of cost for e.g. water, energy and waste. But also employee satisfaction can be raised up. Nevertheless it is connected with high costs of the certification progress. Not every single SME can afford the additional expenditure, because ate the end of very year should be written a sustainability report, which can be published to be more transparent for the customers.

But CSR is getting often critics because it is, like every ecolabel, voluntary.[9] Voluntary means, that there are no regulations of the government, which could strictly proof the actions of a certain company. There are also huge differences in being “green”. Green means acting sustainable with focus on the environmental issues. One the one hand there are companies which were totally “green” in every sector, not just for a better profit or even a better image. And on the other hand there are also companies, which were as green as they have to be to get a certain certification, because there are acting green for becoming a better image.[10] Another point is monitoring, how can an ecolabel reviewed all the certified companies. It is about paying money for having an ecolabel to show the customers that the company is acting “green”. A German NGO CSR- organization is called “TourCert”, which certifies different tourism companies.[11] They already certified a WW operator on the Canary Islands in 2010.[12] A CSR certification for WW is voluntary but e.g. TourCert is monitoring the WW operator and if the operator acts wrong the certification can be denied. It is necessary to write a sustainability report at the end of every year. A critic is that in that certification are not included a code of conduct for the operators. The process of certification contains the optimization of the product[13], but there is no guideline for a better behavior with animals. The problem oh that CSR certification is, that most of them get the certification for their economic and sustainable behavior as well as the social behavior concerning to employee satisfaction. This certification is not oriented for e.g. safaris, WW tours or expeditions. The suppliers have a responsibility for their offers like respecting local cultures, minimize pollution, protection environment etc.[14] But the demanders have also a responsibility; they can choose there holidays and can consider that the operator acts sustainable in all of the three pillars or at least one.

Today’s people awareness’s for sustainability rose up. People are paying more intention on sustainable products or even on Fair Trade products (e.g. clothes, foods, activities etc.). People are more and more seeking for education, for a better knowledge, during their holidays.[15]

Code of Conduct

A CoC is a guideline for behavior. There is such a CoC for WW. The WWF, and others, have published a CoC for WW. Some of the WW operator are using such a CoC, but not yet all of them. Like previously mentioned often WW operators are just profit oriented and want to present their customers a “perfect” WW experience. No matter if they are putting the cetacean in danger or under pressure. Often Tourists do not realize that such a WW tour is not as “good” as it good be for the cetaceans. There are certain criteria’s like a minimum distance, maximum speed, number of boats or even the duration of sightings, which the customers often do not know. There are also criteria’s, which should be forbidden for every operator like feeding the cetaceans for getting a 100% sighting guarantee[16]. Another point is that a CoC is voluntary in most of the countries. There is like in every voluntary action the question who is responsible for the monitoring of voluntary regulations? There is often no limitation and regulation from the government. In most of the cases WW operator do have or do know about a CoC but to fulfill theses guidelines is another question, which could be discussed.

There are certain NGOs like Oceancare which have established CoC and want to combine research and WW with the right CoC for WW.[17]


[1] Staud (2009), p. 10-15

[2] Wight (2007), p. 225

[3] Ritter (2010), p.20

[4] Ibid., p.13ff

[5] Mowforth et al. (2009)

[6] Europeans Commision (2011)

[7] Brundtland Report (1987)

[8] Swarbrook et al (2004), p.243

[9] Wight (2007), p. 225

[10] E+Z (2010), p. 3f

[11] TourCert (2011)

[12] TourCert (2011a)

[13] TourCert (2011b)

[14] Goodwin et al (2003)

[15] Ibid. (2003), p.272

[16] WWF (2007)

[17] Oceancare (2011)

Excerpt out of 15 pages


Sustainable Tourism and Whale Watching. A Supply or Demand Issue?
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Whale Watching, Walbeobachtung, Delfinbeobachtung, Nachhaltiger Tourismus, Sustainable Tourism, CSR, Corporate social responsibility, Grothe, Stefanie, Zertifizierung, Chancen und Risiken, Code of Conduct
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Stefanie Grothe (Author), 2011, Sustainable Tourism and Whale Watching. A Supply or Demand Issue?, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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