The involvement of marine tourism companies in CSR: the case of the island of Tenerife


Corporate Social Responsibility is a voluntary strategy by companies, which integrates a set of actions that contribute to sustainable development. This study analyzes the degree of involvement of marine tourism companies in human resource management, adaptation to change, environmental management, local community development and collaboration with public and private agents. These areas configure companies’ Corporate Social Responsibility strategies. Information was collected from marine tourism companies on the island of Tenerife using quantitative and qualitative methodologies. A binary logistic regression analysis was applied. The results indicate that, in general, marine tourism companies are socio-environmentally responsible. Environmental aspects and adaptation to change through innovation have the greatest weight in these companies’ Corporate Social Responsibility strategies. Actions for local community development and collaboration with private agents are also important. However, human resource management influences negatively since marine tourism is a highly regulated sector in this regard. Thus, actions are mandatory and not voluntary, affecting all companies equally whether they have high levels of Corporate Social Responsibility implementation or not. Regarding relations with public authorities, the results indicate that improvement is urgently required, given the low participation of marine tourism companies in policy making.


Companies play a leading role in shifting economic models toward sustainability. Indeed, companies that integrate socially responsible strategies and actions contribute to sustainability. Likewise, public authorities can contribute their actions in collaboration with companies.

In recent decades, both voluntarily and driven by public authorities, an increasing number of companies have included aspects of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in their objectives and more and more companies consider the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to be an integral part of their competitiveness and growth strategies (Ministerio de Asuntos Exteriores, Unión Europea y Cooperación, 2018). Companies are beginning to understand that a responsible business can generate more sustainable profits and growth, new market opportunities and long-term value for all stakeholders (European Commission 2019a, b).

Business activities produce positive and negative externalities that generate both benefits and costs. CSR has become a highly effective option to minimize the negative impacts of business activities and generate shared value for the company, stakeholders and society at large (Kang et al. 2010). However, business decisions are conditioned by factors within the company’s environment of an economic, social, environmental, technological and political–legal nature.

Political–legal factors stand out as key elements that are dependent on government decisions on economic policy. Governments set goals that they seek to achieve through regulatory reform, and fiscal and monetary instruments. These actions can facilitate, but also hinder business performance (González-Morales et al. 2018). However, the globalization process itself means public institutions are less able to control markets and economic activities, and thus, it is the markets that promote private initiatives of self-regulation. Within this self-regulatory framework, public institutions can endorse established rules or play a more active role, including as a mediator of conflicts. According to Fox et al. (2002), the functions that the public sector can adopt to exercise that influence can include more or less coercive actions. Basically, the public sector can adopt four approaches: to compel or regulate (mandating), to facilitate or encourage (facilitating), to collaborate or to ally (partnering) and to endorse or promote.

In the tourism sector, CSR is becoming more and more embedded. The prosperity of the sector depends directly on the state of the ecosystems in which it carries out its activities, the services it provides, new management methods by creating instruments for intergovernmental cooperation, and networks in which both public and private actors participate in decision making. This situation is particularly important in island territories with a developed tourism sector, and where sustainability strategies are used to mitigate the impact that tourism has on island ecosystems (Fernandes and Pinho 2017; Ismeri Europe and ITD.EU 2011; Manente et al. 2014; Polido et al. 2014; Weaver 2017).

This article focuses on marine tourism companies in an island territory. The main objectives are to analyze whether these companies develop a CSR strategy, observe what type of actions they carry out and how these actions influence this strategy. Following the introduction, the second section summarizes the conceptual framework. The third section sets out the hypotheses, detailing the quantitative and qualitative methodology used, and then, the fourth section includes the most relevant results derived from the empirical part. Finally, the discussion and conclusions are presented.

Conceptual framework

The tourism sector is aware that its companies must formalize a CSR strategy that contributes to achieving the objectives of sustainable development. On the one hand, tourism can cause, directly or indirectly, significant negative impacts on biodiversity and the natural environment that can lead to ecosystem degradation (habitat loss due to the development of tourist facilities, damage to habitats caused by tourist activities, high use of non-renewable energy and water resources, and the consequent difficulty of eliminating solid and liquid waste from accommodation, bars and restaurants, for example). On the other hand, it has been shown that tourism can contribute positively to environmental conservation and provide economic incentives to governments and communities to protect biodiversity and nature, which attracts tourists. Additionally, tourism can offer quality services in ecosystems, raise awareness about biodiversity and conservation among tourists and develop conservation support activities (WEF 2019).

Although hotel companies carry out key activities within tourist destinations and their extensive role in the application of CSR policies, there are other complementary activities with a relevant role. An example of these activities, especially important in tourist destinations, are those focused on coastal and marine tourism activities. Recognizing that coastal and marine tourism activities occupy a notable part of the tourist experience and that they can exert strong pressure on the natural and social environment, there are strong regulation and standardization of such activities. In the high consumption of these activities and services lies the interest in raising awareness of responsible water and energy use, promoting sensible consumption and offering sustainable services, in addition to managing its human resources, especially in the areas of training and prevention of occupational risks. In short, it is considered that the responsible behavior of marine tourism companies contributes to sustainable development and quality employment, with repercussions on the development and cycle of tourist destinations.

Moreover, changes in international tourist consumption models together with the sector’s high competitiveness have driven the search for leisure activities to fill tourists’ time in destinations. The attractiveness of coastal territories, especially insular ones, has also promoted an exponential growth of companies dedicated to marine tourism activities. These companies contribute to employment on islands and have a substantial socio-environmental impact, thus making it necessary to address a significant aspect of their activity: how the land–sea relationship can develop to achieve sustainability on islands (Grydehøj 2019). This study is focused on analyzing the actions that marine tourism companies carry out in relation to CSR, and to check whether there is a transversal, holistic and collaborative strategy among public and private agents

Hall (2001), from a macro perspective, proposes a definition of coastal and marine tourism as one that encompasses the full range of tourism, leisure and recreational activities that take place in the coastal zone and on the high seas. As a segment of this, the concept of marine tourism focuses its interest on “those recreational activities that involve traveling far from the place of residence and have as their receiver or focus the marine environment, which is defined as “those waters that are saline and are affected by the tide” (Orams 1999: 9). This wide amalgam of tourist–recreational activities includes those that use boats—also known as nautical tourism (Lukovic 2007), as well as sports activities and activities carried out on beaches and in the marine natural environment such as walking, photography, relaxing or buying products for use in the marine space in specialized stores (Orams 1999).

Summarizing, the activities that comprise marine tourism include (ECORYS 2013):

  • Maritime tourism developed mainly on the water and not on land (boating, yachting, cruising, water sports, etc.) and includes the operation of land-based facilities, equipment manufacturing and necessary services.

  • Coastal tourism that is represented by recreation and tourism on beaches (swimming, surfing, sunbathing, etc.), and land tourism not related to the beach in the coastal area (all other tourism and recreational activities that take place in the coastal zone, with proximity to the sea being a requirement), as well as supplies and manufacturing industries associated with these activities.

According to Tonazzinni et al. (2019), if island tourism is analyzed, some peculiarities that do not exist in other territories are observed. Islands are highly dependent on marine resources and the activities of the blue economy. In addition, with the unquestionable growth that marine tourism generates in destination economies, it also causes a range of environmental impacts that can lead to the deterioration of coastal and marine ecosystems (Bires and Raj 2020; Hawkins and Roberts 1994; Kurniawan et al. 2016; Miller and Auyong 1991; Miller and Ditton 1986; Pascoe et al. 2014; Romeril 1988; Wong 1993). The challenge of tourism in coastal territories is to find, through strategies and management mechanisms, a balanced adjustment between economic, environmental and sociocultural dimensions (Budowski 1976; Hall 2011; Jones 2019; Liu et al. 2020; Merli et al. 2019; Orams 1999; Papageorgiou 2016) in tourism sustainability (Bramwell and Lane 2011; Gkoumas 2019; Grilli et al. 2021; Pham 2020; Rocha et al. 2020).

In this context, governance becomes important, understood as shared management between public and private agents of socioeconomic and environmental problems. Due to its concentrated nature in specific coastal areas and its high degree of multisectoral diversification in products, marine tourism requires collaboration between public institutions, organizations and individuals (Kelly et al. 2012; Li et al. 2016), favoring the taking of informed and responsible decisions in both planning and management and in relation to the environment and the populations involved.

In an internationally agreed attempt to develop governance policies around maritime-coastal areas, the European Union’s Blue Growth Strategy [COM (2012) 494] articulates the challenges regarding the EU’s marine environment for Horizon 2020. With a clear integration trend, it recognizes the value of the seas and oceans as driving forces of the European economy and their potential for innovation, growth and job creation. In this framework, tourist activity associated with coasts and seas holds a relevant position. The communication from the European Union Commission “A European strategy for greater growth and employment in coastal and maritime tourism” [COM (2014) 86] proposes specific policies to develop and promote economic growth in tourism based on sustainable precepts. The commission identifies tourism as the largest maritime activity in the union, which represents more than a third of the maritime economy, provides employment for almost 3.2 million people and generates a total of 183,000 million euros of gross added value (ECORYS 2013, 2016, 2020). As evidenced by the European Commission in the communication called “A renewed and stronger strategic partnership with the outermost regions of the European Union” [COM (2017) 623], in the archipelagic regions belonging to the union, the sustainability of coastal and marine tourism is one of the great challenges to come.

In island tourist destinations, the need to establish a viable balance between economic, sociocultural and environmental impacts of tourism is more evident (Graci and Doods 2010). Specific issues concerning island ecosystems such as resource scarcity, isolation, vulnerability to natural disasters, dependence on the exterior, high concentration of endemism, demographic fluctuation through emigration–immigration cycles (Martín de la Rosa 2009), among others, are strong determining factors in sustainable tourism development in these territories. In this scenario, the environmental impacts derived from tourist activity, such as increased pressure on land use and high population density, air and water pollution, waste generation in limited spaces and the transformation of the natural coastal and marine environment require specific management so that, in the long term, island tourism does not end up destroying itself (Hall 2011). In this respect, public authorities play a fundamental role, as they are responsible for the development of planning strategies, management and monitoring tourist activity, and market incentives that allow the attractiveness of the destination to be maintained while preserving its natural resources (Briguglio and Briguglio 2002). Likewise, it is important to recognize the intricate interconnections that exist among government entities responsible for the environment, tourism promotion and the private sector, and the need to establish communication and joint management toward common objectives, whose goals are long-term socioeconomic and environmental sustainability (Hall 2001). In this sense, effective tourism governance, tailored to the purposes of the wide range of actors involved and specific contexts, is a key requirement to advance the objectives of sustainable tourism (Bramwell and Lane 2011; Grilli et al. 2021).

The empirical analysis for this work has been carried out on Tenerife (Canary Islands, Spain), an outermost region of the European Union located in the Atlantic and economically characterized by its high dependence on tourism.

In recent years, the Canary Island Government and other public authorities have been promoting a differentiation strategy for tourism on the islands, especially on Tenerife, which originally began as a sun and beach tourist destination. Currently, cultural, ethnographic, historical, landmarks and natural resources are valued to direct the Islands’ tourist image toward a more sustainable and complementary one. In this new strategy, public–private collaboration is essential, and a coordinated decision-making process has begun, as well as the implementation of modernization plans for the destination, including those that affect marine tourism activities within a blue economy strategy.

Hypotheses and methodology


CSR in Europe has developed as a result of the publication of the Green Paper prepared by the European Commission (2001), which defines its concept, dimensions and aspects (Table 1).

Table 1 Definition, dimensions, and aspects of CSR according to the European Union.

In order to analyze the degree of involvement of marine tourism companies in the development of a CSR strategy and how the actions they take influence said strategy, each of the aspects contained in Table 1 will be taken into account. Based on these aspects, the following hypotheses are proposed:

H1. Tourism companies do not have a CSR strategy; they only focus their actions on the management of environmental impact and natural resources and health and safety at work aspects, because they need to take care of the environment where they carry out their activities and control the risks associated with them.

H2. The diversity of companies that this sector encompasses means that they have little strength to negotiate and cooperate with public authorities, needing inter-business cooperation to achieve public–private collaboration that allows them greater participation in decisions.

The population under study is made up of 206 establishments that carried out marine tourism activities in Tenerife in 2018, once companies involved in sunbed services were removed. The marine tourism activities in Tenerife are diverse; as examples, we can mention surfing, scuba diving, sailing, coastal activities, as well as coastal resources and specialized shops.

Two types of methodology were used to obtain information: quantitative and qualitative.

Quantitative methodology

To collect information from these companies, an ad hoc questionnaire was prepared with questions based on the Ethos Institute (2019) indicators on CSR, harmonized with the ISO 26000 guidelines and the G4 standards of the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI 2014).

As already mentioned, the questionnaire was structured considering the indications of the European Commission (2001). The type of activity carried out by these companies’ influences their size, and they are mostly small companies. It was decided to group the aspects of Table 1 into five factors, as shown in Table 2.

Table 2 Variables used in the binary logistic regression.

The structure and content of the questionnaire, as well as the overall percentages of each item, are given in “Appendix 1.” The questionnaire is addressed to those in charge of the companies (owners and/or managers) and was completed in the second semester of 2019. The questions are answered on a Likert scale measured from 1 to 5. The higher the score for each item, the more favorable to the question the answer is and vice versa. Out of the companies that responded 84.4% of the companies were micro-companies, 48.3% family companies and 51.7% were less than 10 years old.

Based on the stated objective and considering previous theoretical approaches, and the data obtained, it was decided to apply a binary logistic regression (BLR) analysis. Other developments of the classical linear regression model, enhanced with factor analysis, have led toward the estimation of structural equation models (Berk et al. 2010), which have been used in studies on CSR impacts (Boccia and Sarnacchiaro 2018). In this study, it was decided to use BLR because the objective of this statistical technique is to check hypotheses or causal relationships when the dependent variable is nominal. In general, logistic regression is adequate when the dependent variable Y is polytomous, that is, it supports several response categories, but it is especially useful, when there are only two possible responses, that is, the dependent variable Y is dichotomous, as is the case in this analysis.

The binary logistic regression (BLR) aims to find the best model to explain the relationship between a dependent variable (binary) and a set of explanatory independent variables (binary). The model quantifies the importance of the relationship between the independent variables and the dependent variable, as well as classifying individuals within the categories of the dependent variable Y, according to the probability of belonging to one of them depending on the presence of the independent variables (Martínez Arias 1999). Likewise, this type of statistical analysis has demonstrated its usefulness when the sample size is small (Ferreres et al. 2000; Menard 2010). Furthermore, in previous studies, authors have applied this statistical technique to the tourist accommodation and construction sectors with the same objective of analyzing CSR strategies. This will allow better comparison with the results from future studies.

The nature of the items in the questionnaire, constructed on a Likert scale, requires a transformation of the responses so that they can be used in the BLR in a dichotomous way. Therefore, the dependent variable and the independent variables became factors that measure an overall result for each group of responses, taking value 0 when it is below the mean and value 1 if it is above the mean, as observed in Table 2. The program used is SPSS 21.

The model proposed is:

Y = pro {yes} = \(\frac{1}{{1 + e^{ - z} }}\), where Z is the following linear combination

$$Z = b_{0} + b_{1 } X_{1} + b_{2 } X_{2} + b_{3 } X_{3} + b_{4 } X_{4 } + b_{5 } X_{5 } + \varepsilon$$

Y = probability of occurrence of the event (high level of CSR), dependent variable; X1, X2, X3, X4, X5 = scores of the independent variables (factors 1, 2, 3, 4, 5); b0 = constant \(b_{1} , b_{2} , b_{3} , b_{4} , b_{5}\) = estimated regression coefficients that inform how much the probability of Z occurring in the event of a unit change of each independent variable, keeping the others constant, and ε = estimation error.

The Enter method was used, which uses all the variables in a single step. The omnibus test is less than 0.05, which indicates that the factors used as independent variables explain the degree of involvement of companies in terms of CSR (dependent variable). The part of the variance of the dependent variable explained by the model ranges from 26.7% (0.267 R-squared by Cox and Snell) to 39.9% (0.399 R-squared by Nagelkerke). The Hosmer and Lemeshow test is expected to be insignificant, so that there are no significant differences between the observed and expected values; in this case, it was not significant (0.800). Furthermore, the model is accepted because it correctly classifies 84.5% of the companies, so the independent variables are good predictors of the dependent variable.

Qualitative methodology

To complement the results obtained with the quantitative methodology, a qualitative methodology was used to explore, investigate and analyze the perception of those in charge of marine tourism companies on the different aspects that make up CSR. Case study was used as a research methodology. Through this methodology, relevant information was obtained from the heads of six companies in the sector (Table 3), which allowed: (1) interaction with the informant in a natural, non-intrusive way, seeking their perspective on the issue raised, and (2) interview in depth with key informants on the most relevant aspects of CSR. With this methodology, the aim is to capture the reality of the context from the informants’ perceptions (Bonilla-Castro and Rodríguez Sehk 1997) and compare it with the responses obtained in the quantitative part of the analysis.

Table 3 Dimensions of information and informants interviewed.

To obtain the maximum information, the in-depth interview was used with the objective that each interviewee could freely express their opinions and beliefs, delving much deeper than a superficial response would be (Miquel et al. 1996). The interview focused on how they perceived the actions related to the five factors used in the quantitative methodology. The dimensions of information and the questions asked in the interview are given in Table 4.

Table 4 Dimensions of the information and questions of the semi-structured interview.


The descriptive results coincide with the results of the BLR model, which indicates a strong relationship between CSR strategy and factors 2 and 3, with factor 3 having the most decisive influence (Table 5). Therefore, the hypotheses proposed are fulfilled.

Table 5 Model proposed. Results of the binary logistic regression analysis (variables in the equation)

The descriptive results can be consulted in a disaggregated form, in percentages, in “Appendix 1”. Regarding the model, Exp (b) indicates the strength of the relationship between the dependent variable and the independent variables; the further from 1, the stronger the relationship is. To compare the exponentials of b with each other, those that are less than 1 must be transformed into their inverse or reciprocal, that is, 1 must be divided by Exp (b).

The factors that contribute the most to the development of a true CSR strategy are the environmental aspect accompanied by aspects of adaptation to change, which implies that companies innovate and train their personnel to adapt to innovations. Although the remaining factors are not significant, it is interesting to observe them from the point of view of their contribution to the CSR strategy. Actions carried out for the development of local communities and collaboration with private agents have a high positive score (factor 4). However, actions in human resource management (factor 1) and the relationship with public agents (factor 5) are negative, which indicates that they contribute negatively, reducing the probability of having a true CSR strategy, which deserves a more detailed explanation.

Companies with CSR strategies integrated into their objectives carry out more than average socially responsible actions in all factors when compared to those companies that do not have a CSR strategy. The case of relations with public agents is relevant due to the low scores on the items analyzed, although they continue to be higher in companies with socially responsible strategies (“Appendix 2”).

The outcomes of the interviews support these results (“Appendix 3”). All the companies interviewed carry out CSR actions but do not include them in any written document. In the words of informant E4

I think that a little common sense and respect for the environment comes naturally to us, at the moment, we have not thought of writing it anywhere because we all are very responsible.

It fundamentally highlights the enormous respect for the environment that everyone manifests. Thus, E1 indicates that “We are aware of all the impacts that our activity generates on everything that is the environment, of course, and on everything that is called a stakeholder in a company… the fundamental strategy is to achieve… that the attributes of the destination go with the sustainability”. E2 focuses the impacts of its activity mainly on the anchors needed to anchor ships to the seabed, commenting that problems like this that could be improved to reduce the impact on the seabed if, for example, municipalities collaborate with companies by setting fixed anchorages.

This attitude sensitizes companies toward caring for their environment and to seek innovations to improve their products and services. One of the actions that are repeated among the companies interviewed is the recycling of obsolete products through collaboration with other companies in the area, especially those dedicated to the same sector or to crafts.

Although business size does not appear to be an impediment to acting in a socio-environmentally responsible way, they understand that small businesses sometimes cannot face certain challenges and are stifled by public actions. In E6’s opinion, integrating CSR into the company’s objectives

… when there are values behind it, I do not see it as difficult and we even donate for charitable purposes, and we want to start projects aimed at people in social exclusion, that is, that, no matter how small the company, you can always do something, especially a small company which has an entrepreneur, by the mere fact of having a small company, gets more involved… the small company has that driving force of needing to improve in order to survive, and so I think that this can do a lot socially.

The most important problem mentioned is the obstacles derived from excessive regulation or lack of coordination among different public authorities. They ask the authorities to control the intrusion into their activity and to reduce taxes and administrative obstacles. Having few relations with public administrations beyond those derived from the mandatory regulations, they consider that the collaboration between companies in the sector could help to improve relations. E2 indicates that they are trying to form an association, as a valid interlocutor, to have more strength when dealing with public authorities.

Discussion and conclusions

This work has analyzed the weight that each of the aspects that make up CSR has in the strategies of marine tourism companies.

Two hypotheses were proposed. Hypothesis 1 stated that marine tourism companies do not have a CSR strategy, but they only develop aspects regarding the management of environmental impacts and natural resources and health and safety at work. Human resource management is a very important issue for marine tourism companies, not only in terms of training and working conditions, but, above all, in terms of occupational health and safety, given the risks that many of these activities entail, so it would be advisable to increase actions in this regard. The same applies to environmental aspects, since these companies depend on the environment to carry out their activities and need it to be as attractive and well preserved as possible.

Our results partially support this hypothesis. On the one hand, the environmental aspect is the one that contributes the most to marine tourism companies’ CSR strategies and supports their contributions to goals 13 and 14 of the SDGs. Although, as Higgins-Desbiolles (2018) indicate, in island territories the environmental criteria integrated into the legal obligations of companies are demanding, in the case of marine tourism companies, these contribute to the island’s sustainability beyond their strictly legal obligations. On the other hand, it is paradoxical that there is a low contribution of health and safety at work, with this area even having a negative impact on contributions to CSR. This is explained by the high number of mandatory regulations that homogenizes the behavior of all companies, whether or not they are socio-environmentally responsible, leaving little room for non-mandatory actions.

However, adaptation to change, reflected in the innovations that the sector has introduced in recent years, is an aspect with great influence on CSR strategies. This aspect, so common in the tourism system, has shown its importance in improving the competitiveness of the sector, differentiating processes, products and services. For companies with highly strategic CSR, innovation by organizing more efficient processes with fewer environmental impacts is a way to contribute to sustainable development.

Likewise, the group of companies offering coastal and marine tourism products see themselves as the main actors for successful social sustainability of a tourist destination. The study shows that these companies have an important role within their community and commitment to their partners, suppliers, customers and other related companies, although with some difficulties.

Basically, it is the relations with public authorities that have the worst evaluations and the greatest negative impact. In this sense, González-Morales et al. (2018) already indicated that government action can facilitate but can also hinder business performance. In this case, companies in the sector perceive the public administration as a hindrance to their actions, largely due to the lack of dialog and collaboration between parties. This result indicates that hypothesis 2 has been fulfilled. The diversity of companies that encompasses the marine tourism sector means that they have little strength when it comes to negotiating and cooperating with public authorities, needing inter-business cooperation to achieve greater public–private collaboration and greater participation in decision making. As indicated, marine tourism is a set of business activities with an important, varied and detailed regulation from different public authorities (from the European level to the local level, through the State Administration, Autonomous Regional Governments and the Island Governments). There are no accessible communication channels, blurring the relations that should lead to an effective governance structure. The response has come from the companies themselves, promoting the constitution of two associations, one specifically for marine tourism and the other for active tourism, which aim to give a common voice and have weight in decision making. Internal governance is manifested as a procedure to be taken into account when planning and in innovative proposals aimed at promoting CSR. This is in line with Massukado and Teixeira (2007), who considered that companies have a positive attitude toward public–private cooperation that is identified with association, a common goal and teamwork.

It is considered that the small business character of marine tourism can contribute to CSR to a large extent, because it promotes an improved distribution of the socioeconomic benefits that tourism brings to the island (SDG 8 and 10). However, this same characteristic shows a fragmented sector with barriers to collaboration and the exchange of knowledge and good practices. In this study, the results indicate that business size does not seem to be an obstacle to contributing to the sustainable development of the island through CSR actions, which is in line with Blombäck and Wigren (2009). They consider that it is local integration and companies’ individual motivation that explains if a company is socio-environmentally responsible and not its business size.

It has been verified that the activities carried out by marine tourism companies add value and quality to the tourism experience and provide an important diversification of the complementary offer in a destination that, despite offering other types of tourism, looks out on the sea continually. However, sometimes, the important role these companies play in the island’s tourism system is not recognized. Added to this is the lack of a clear definition that defines and allows the development of indicators on coastal and marine tourism. This generates weaknesses and fewer appropriate responses and measures. This point is one of the limitations of the study due to the great diversity of activities that make up this sector, with different problems. This study presents the most general and common results for the sector, complemented by in-depth interviews, that has obtained a broad view of certain activities, whose impact on the island is important, though has not included all the activities classified within the group of marine tourism. This requires further research into new issues in the future.

Based on the strength of the data, the coastal and marine tourism sector has been included as one of the five fundamental axes of the European Union’s “European Blue Growth Strategy,” whose purpose is based on the assumption that the marine economy is one of the economic growth engines of the member states in the coming decades. This compendium of public policies tries to observe coastal and marine tourism as an area with special potential to promote an intelligent, sustainable and inclusive Europe.

In line with this, in the Canary Islands, blue growth is included as a priority in the Intelligent Specialization Strategy 2014–2020 (RIS3), focusing on productive diversification based on innovation, technological renewal and sustainability ( But the strategy has not yet been carried out, though the need for it is shown in this study. Such a strategy should provide well-designed regulations, laws by listening to and learning about the problems faced by companies in the sector, solve the lack of coordination between public authorities that leads to increased bureaucracy or collision of regulations, provide support through technical assistance, training and information and create incentives of various kinds.

This has been the first attempt to study the CSR actions carried out by the marine tourism sector on the island of Tenerife. The results are expected to help the public authorities and institutions involved to better understand the current challenges of marine tourism companies, establishing their priorities through comprehensive and coherent regulations of marine tourism activities, so that these companies can increase their contributions to the global objectives of sustainable development.

Recognizing the importance of the CRS in Blue Growth and its implications in the requalification and adaptation of business models, the research team is aware that the Tourist System shows differential elements in each of the islands of the archipelago. The current research project poses as a task the comparison of these and the establishment of recommendations. However, the time of the COVID-19 is showing limitations (zero tourism, resilience and reorganization) and raises a possible organizational reconfiguration of marine tourism. Future research may offer different patterns than the current ones, but it is also possible that they force a conceptual review of the tourism system itself.


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This article is the result of research work carried out within the project Tourist Intelligence for Responsible Marine Tourism (INTURMAR) project, led by Dr. Agustín Santana Talavera of the University of La Laguna. This work was supported by the Smart Specialization Strategy of the Canary Islands RIS-3 co-financed by the Operational Program FEDER Canarias 2014–2020 under Grant ProID2017010128.

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Olga González-Morales and Agustín Santana-Talavera, Member of ISTUR; David Domínguez-González, Researcher of ISTUR.


Appendix 1

See Table 6.

Table 6 Questionnaire on corporate social responsibility (CSR) actions in marine tourism enterprises and results in percentages. Value 5 is the highest score (results in percentages)

Appendix 2

See Table 7.

Table 7 Contingency table between the degree of CSR commitment according to the companies and the different factors that encompass CSR actions (in percentage)

Appendix 3

See Table 8.

Table 8 Summary of informants’ responses

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González-Morales, O., Santana Talavera, A. & Domínguez González, D. The involvement of marine tourism companies in CSR: the case of the island of Tenerife. Environ Dev Sustain (2021).

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  • Marine tourism
  • Corporate social responsibility
  • Governance
  • Islands
  • Sustainability