The ethics of an all-inclusive plan: An investigation of social sustainability in the case of all-inclusive resorts, Jamaica
Ethics and sustainability are commonly used catchphrases in the modern business world. As several hospitality entities go out of their way to provide the emergent pro-environmentalist guest with value-added ‘green’ goods and services, others are forced to re-analyse their operational strategies to maintain competitive advantage (Miao and Wei 2012). The all-inclusive system, a marketing paradigm that involves inclusion of all (or most) hotel services at one standard price, has been extremely popular since the 1970s. This system gained prominence with the advent of mass tourism, and is still very common in the Caribbean islands. However, this bundling system has not been scrutinised from a sustainability perspective. The research recognises that sustainability is not limited to environmental practices, but also focuses on economic benefits and social development (Elkington 1997). A review of recent scholarship in the sustainability domain reveals that the environmental dimension has been the key focus of research, while the social aspect of sustainability has received little attention (Bonini et al. 2010). This study therefore aims to address this gap and investigate social sustainability of all-inclusive system. The research is located in Jamaica, a popular destination for all-inclusive travel. Primary data was collected through semi-structured interviews with front desk agents at all-inclusive Resort X. Findings indicate that although employees value direct employment created by the resort, they resent some of the necessarily evils associated with all-inclusive system, such as lack of entrepreneurial opportunities, exclusion and subservience. Based on analysis of qualitative data, the paper presents a conceptual framework, the final outcome of this study. The conceptual model depicts four key dimensions of social sustainability on a hierarchical scale, based on importance attached to each of these by the respondents. The findings establish that employees and wider communities are increasingly expecting businesses to act responsibly. It is important to adopt a holistic and balanced approach to issues concerning business ethics and sustainability.
Keywords: sustainability, all-inclusive, ethics, business ethics, triple bottom line