Magazine article International Trade Forum

Fair Growth for All through Tourism

Magazine article International Trade Forum

Fair Growth for All through Tourism

Article excerpt

Tourism represents the perfect blend of contemporary globalization, incorporating trade, mobility, people, and development. It has proven its endurance amid persisting global economic challenges, geopolitical changes, and natural and man-made crises.

The sector has become a synonym of resilience and development, bouncing back faster and stronger than most and providing economic activity embraced by an increasing number of developing nations.

Today, more than a billion people travel the world each year, generating 9% of global GDP and contributing towards one in 11 jobs worldwide. As a service export category the revenue stemming from international tourism continues to expand, reaching a record of US$ 1.3 trillion in 2012, double its value of a decade ago.

International tourism has also become one of the top trade categories, ranking fifth worldwide after fuels, chemicals, food, and automotive products. For the emerging economies as a group, tourism is the fourth-largest export category and for the majority of developing countries it is one of the top three exports.

The role of tourism in development

Tourism is often one of the few competitive options developing countries have to take part in the global economy. It is therefore no surprise that the sector has been identified by many least developed countries (LDCs) and small island developing States (SIDS) as a powerful engine for poverty reduction and economic growth.

Development strategies in low-income countries often highlight the tourism sector and its potential. The majority of LDC Diagnostic Trade Integration Studies have shown tourism as a priority sector for growth and exports.

Looking at the weight of international tourism as an export category by region, it becomes clear it can be a major catalyst for development. In Africa it already represents 7% of all exports and in Central America it accounts for as much as 13% of the sub-region's exports. Tourism is also the first export category in the Caribbean and in Southern and Mediterranean Europe. For Central America, the Middle East and Northern Europe, tourism is the third most important export category.

Tourism in the trade agenda

For tourism to fully play its part in economic growth it must be given proper recognition and support in the design of trade, investment and business-development policies. Trade policy negotiations and implementation should address tourism and take full account of its potential. …

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