One might think that as the chairman and founder of Karma Group, John Spence has little time for anything else. But in addition to running multiple resorts, including Royal Resorts, Karma Resorts, Karma Estates, Beach Clubs International, Karma Spa and the upcoming Karma Ski, also finds the time to give back in several ways.
As a distinguished visiting fellow at both Yale University and University of California, Spence often gives lectures on business in relation to his experience of running a travel empire. Part of that, he insists, comes from a desire to give back in any way he can.
Here he tells us about the need for social responsibility in luxury tourism and travel.
“So many resorts don’t have souls. Too many people who design, build and manage resorts view them purely from an economic point of view to make sure that the return on investment to the developer or operator is maximised. There’s nothing wrong with profit. Profit is healthy.
“I believe in a sense of karma. I don’t believe that I am who I am and they are who they are. There’s a certain luck where one’s born and how it works. And I do believe people should help each other. These days, there’s no reason why there’s so much poverty. I am rather pleased that I am a wealthy man, but there are a lot of wealthy people who just don’t contribute. We know the world is becoming more polarised — more and more money is being held by fewer people at the top. There is a moral obligation to help less fortunate people in different ways.
“We have several projects. One of which is a school in India where we have about 900 children and we provide education to kids from ages three to 17. This is based on the philosophy that if you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day; if you teach a man to fish, you feed him forever. We’re trying to break the cycle of poverty in a very small way through education so they can go forward and do other things.
“This resonates very strongly with our members of staff, colleagues, employees and also clients and owners who stay with us. There’s a very common thread that they like being part of that and they get quite a good feeling from it.
“How do we quantify it? What we do is just a drop in the ocean. But if it means every year that 900 children can be educated and go forward, that’s a very quantifiable thing to do.”