Pro-Poor Tourism: Expanding Opportunities: Reducing Poverty in Developing Countries through Tourism

Article excerpt

The World Travel & Tourism Council predicts that the travel and tourism industry will be one of the world's fastest growing sectors between 2011 and 2021, creating about 66 million jobs and accounting for 9.6% of GDP (up from 9.1%).

According to the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), international tourist arrivals in developing countries are increasing and tourism is gaining importance as a driver of development, exports and jobs. Tourists increasingly look for cultural and natural attractions in rural areas, thereby increasing the scope for poverty reduction in developing countries due to their comparative advantage. The fact that two-thirds of the people suffering from extreme poverty live in rural areas reinforces the pro-poor potential according to the Rural Poverty Report 2011 by the International Fund for Agricultural Development. Tourism is labour intensive and Presents employment opportunities for even low-skilled people. Considering the need for training and capacity building through domestic suppliers, and in cooperation with international and regional providers, tourism offers superior poverty reduction opportunities. In addition, UNWTO argues that more women and young people, who are proportionally more disadvantaged, find jobs within tourism. The figure below shows the tourism value chain along which employment can be generated, directly and indirectly.

At the same time, tourism does not represent a trouble-free means of economic development. The tourism sector is competitive and vulnerable to natural disasters and political instability; and poor communities do not automatically benefit from tourism as there are high 'economic leakage' rates as key industry players often prefer imported supplies and services.

To turn leakages into linkages, it is essential to consider different levels of intervention, namely producers, key buyers, support institutions and national policymakers. Equally, it is crucial that developing countries establish a 'coherent policy framework, [develop] effective and efficient institutions and [stimulate] a proactive private sector in order to exploit their comparative advantage in tourism. …

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