Ethical Dimensions of the Charter Term Paper

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Emphasize the importance of courtesy, organization, and calmness to all staff members. These qualities on the part of the staff can reinforce the importance of generally good and ethical behaviour to the tourists, which may then carry over to their behaviour in the destination country.

Maintain a neutral stance on the culture of the destination country or countries. Making clear that all cultures have equal value and that ethical behaviour must be expected of all visitors. It must also be clear through explicit instructions and by example that tourists often have greater power than the people they are visiting and so must act with respect and restraint.

Obey the laws, regulations, customs, and traditions of both departure and destination countries. This is clearly linked to the above. (Fennell: 2006; Fennell & Malloy: 2007).

Charter airline companies are private corporations, which ensures that those who own them (either directly or indirectly through stocks) are interested in maximizing profits. While of course it is possible for a company to be both ethical and profitable, it tends to be in the nature of for-profit entities that the profit aspect of them tends to overshadow everything else (Hall and Brown, 2006:15 adapted from McKercher, 1993:7). In practical terms this means that when a choice can be made between increasing profits in the short-term or making ethical decisions for the long-term, the former tends to win out.

While there are certainly any number of large corporations that have (and no doubt continue) acted in spectacularly unethical ways, there is substantial room for unethical behavior in the kinds of smaller companies that run charter airline services because there tends to be less oversight. Moreover, as introduced above, there can be additional pressure on the owners and managers of charter airline companies to cut corners ethically to help compensate for the compromises that such services require (Krippendorf, 1987).

The Ethics of Thrift

A passenger who is flying first class on a large international airline is generally in a very comfortable situation, with good food, good service, and even relatively good sleeping opportunities. If such a passenger is told that his or her ticket is going to be increased by a certain amount to help increase the fuel efficiency of the plane, or the salaries of local mechanics where the plane is serviced, that person is unlikely to object in any extravagant way. Indeed, he or she may be pleased that they are able to combine personal comfort with ethical behavior. Most humans are happy to combine personal pleasure with ethical behavior when this combination is available. The difficulties only arise when a choice has to be made between one and the other (Smith, 2001).

The choice becomes even more difficult when the options are degraded. A passenger who has every need and desire being met is unlikely to begrudge a little of this largesse rubbing off to benefit others. However, a passenger who has to pay for her own peanuts, has no room for his camera bag, and must take three shuttles after landing to get from the out-of-the-way airport served by the charter airline to her hotel is much less likely to feel charitable and so much less likely to reward a company that acts ethically.

Various models of tourism (as well as common experience) indicate that there are different basic typologies of tourism in terms of both intention and experience. While what we might call amateur tourists tend to make safe choices, going on package tours with people who are like themselves, and then shifting to a modality of tourism in which they seek out increasingly "authentic" experiences. These latter types tend to have deeper and potentially more harmful to local environments. Charter airline companies can be associated with both types of tourism. Each type has different ethical questions associated with it.

Not only do travelers who are feeling exploited by a company tend to be less charitable towards others, they are also likely to be drawn from a rather different demographic pool to begin with, which also poses ethical questions for the charter airline industry. The following provides a summation of some of the economic challenges faced by charter airlines that affect the ethical choices that they make or may make:

Competitive nature of the industry -- which tends to me more beneficial to well-established companies rather than newer ones, which can work to the disadvantage of charter airline companies, which are newer in general than larger companies. Any structural set of disadvantages against an entire industry or segment of an industry (such as this segment of the tourism industry) tends to encourage unethical behaviour. Companies that feel that they are not playing on a level playing ground may well feel themselves to be less obligated to follow ethical codes of conduct.

Domination of big transnational corporations -- this is the same dynamic as above, with the additional of the fact that larger companies tend to have advantages over smaller ones (e.g. charter airline companies) when dealing with international legalities and protocols, in part because it is possible for larger corporations to have staffs in each country, which will generally reduce the friction and inefficiency that can occur when there are no permanent local staff. Not having staff in the countries of destination is likely to make charter airline companies less bound by the ethics of the dual communities that they serve (Sharma: 2004).

Unequal exchange and power relationships -- this applies both to the relationship between small and large companies (which tend to have greater political capital) and to the relationships between the nations where tourism companies are located and where their business take place. Inequality of relationships tends to lead to unethical behaviour because the party with greater power tends to feel entitled to do what it wants regardless (at least in some measure) of consequences and the party with less power tend to feel exploited and so also feel unbound by many ethical guidelines (Stonich, 2000).

Complexity of structures of ownership and accountability -- these (as noted) can be much looser in a smaller firm where there are less likely (for example) to be regular outside audits. Smaller companies are also more likely to be privately held and so not to have stockholders than is the case with larger companies and so lack the oversight that stockholder meetings provide. (Not that stockholders are necessarily good at providing oversight, but the more potential eyes there are on a company, the more cleanly it tends to be run.)

Small margins, often based on large scale business -- these obviously disadvantage small charter airline companies, which may encourage them to cut corners ethically. Companies that are having a hard time achieving their financial goals are much more likely to act unethically, and give the low profit margins of many charter airlines, this would include them.

Societal pressures for low-cost high quality -- this creates a tremendous pressure for companies to skimp on ethics because this is an area that consumers cannot see. Consumers will notice bad food on a flight, but they are unlikely to notice (or, indeed, to care even if they do notice) how cleanly the plane's engines run.

Societal importance attributed to ethics -- within capitalist societies, there is often a great deal of laxity about what companies may ethically do. The standards for small companies, which can be seen as entrepreneurial champions, may be far lower than are those for either larger companies or for individuals.

Charter airline companies make their money by cutting corners. This tends to make their customers feel that they are owed something from someone else on their vacation. Unless given excellent guidance from the charter airline company (along with others), these tourists may well take out resentment against the company against the very people that they had so looked forward to meeting and learning about.

References

Fennell, D.A. (2006). Tourism Ethics. Clevedon, England: Channel View.

Fennell, D.A. And Malloy, D.C. (2007). Codes of Ethics in Tourism: Practice, Theory and Synthesis. Clevedon, England: Channel View.

Holden, a. (2005). Tourism Studies and the Social Sciences. Oxon, England: Routledge.

Krippendorf, J. (1987) the Holiday Makers: Understanding the Impact of Leisure and Travel. Oxford: Butterworth-Heinemann.

Sharma, K.K. (2004). Tourism and Socio-cultural Development. New Delhi, India: Sarup and Sons.

Smith, M., and Duffy, R. (2003). The Ethics of Tourism Development. London, England: Routledge.

Smith, V.L. (2001). Tourism change and impacts. In V.L. Smith and M. Brent (eds) Hosts and Guests Revisited: Tourism Issues of the 21st Century (pp. 107 -- 121). New York, USA: Cognizant.

Stonich, S.C. (2000). The Other Side of…[continue]

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