Community impact

Restaurants may have negative impacts on communities if they primarily source imported food or products and do not employ local staff.

Restaurants have a high potential to positively affect local communities and support them through low-key access for local food, beverages and other goods, as well as when awarding contracts to service-providers or hiring local staff. However, inadequate inclusion of local stakeholders and communities by restaurant operators brings the risk of economic leakage. If mostly international staff are contracted and most of the food and drinks served at restaurants is imported (if the restaurant is owned by a transnational company or to follow the demands of tourists), only a fraction of the money tourists spend on food and beverages benefits the local community.

Measuring economic leakage
Good practice: Vietnam
Good practice: Colombia
Measuring economic leakage

In many developing countries, tourism is an important source of income and has a high potential to positively contribute to generating jobs and revenues. However, often only 10% or less of the money spent by tourists stays in the country and is for the profit of local communities. The rest goes to international transportation companies, hotel chains, travel agencies, non-local guides, or imported goods.

Good practice: Vietnam

Transforming lives through education

KOTO is a non-profit restaurant and vocational training program that is changing the lives of street and disadvantaged youth in Hanoi, Vietnam. These children and adolescents are commonly known as "bui doi", literally translated as the "dust of life". They face a number of specific and serious obstacles trying to survive in an extremely competitive and volatile environment. Sadly, many have extremely poor health and fall prey to drugs, exploitation, crime and prostitution.

KOTO restaurant gives disadvantaged youth hope for a better future through training and opportunity. Its 2-year hospitality services and culinary arts program equips youth with the skills necessary for a sustainable career. At the end of the program, trainees graduate with an internationally recognised hospitality accreditation from Box Hill Institute in Melbourne, Australia. This training has led many to gain employment in 5-star restaurants and hotels in Vietnam and around the world. Others are employed by KOTO’s two training restaurants in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.

Good practice: Colombia

Three businesses making Cartagena more sustainable 

Cartagena’s hospitality sector isn’t waiting around for sustainability reforms. Several companies are rolling up their sleeves and taking matters into their own hands. For example, the Australian Cafe Stepping Stone strives to spread the income specifically to the disadvantaged communities. In addition to hiring locally and providing competitive wages, the social enterprise offers opportunities to learn the workings of the business to those in less-prosperous neighborhoods who do not have the qualifications, or to minorities who are often excluded. With a comprehensive, paid hospitality training program, English lessons and other weekly training sessions around waste management and sustainability, financial planning, labor laws and worker's rights, the initiative trained over 40 youth. 

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Take action

Policy and process

  • Integrate clauses on local procurement and local employment in contracts with restaurants as well as in Supplier Code of Conduct.

Impact assessment

  • Consult local stakeholders and potentially affected rightsholders in the context of an in-depth human rights impact assessment on potential/actual issues related to restaurants (business partners).

Sector collaboration

  • Collaborate in local industry initiatives to bring members from the local communities up to speed on the tourism industry and improve their chances to get employed in restaurants.

Training and capacity building

  • Train business partners (restaurants) in the destinations on local procurement practices and local employment.

Responsible product development

  • Find locally owned and managed restaurants (e.g. led by cooperatives representing the local community) to partner with.

Find more information on potential measures to take on the "take action" site. 

Learn more

Find more information in the Resource Centre.