Plan Ahead

Tourism – a Fight Against Poverty


Author: Jayanthi&aleeswari


Creating Jobs and Wealth

Poverty alleviation has become an essential condition for peace, environmental conservation and sustainable development, besides being an ethical obligation in an affluent world, where the divide between poor and rich nations seems to have increased in recent years. There is a stronger evidence that tourism if developed and managed in a sustainable manner, can make a significant contribution to alleviate poverty, especially in rural areas, where most of the poor live and where there are very few other development options.

Travel & Tourism is the world’s largest industry and creator of jobs across national and regional economies. World Travel and Tourism Council research shows that in 2000, Travel & Tourism will generate, directly and indirectly, 11.7% of Gross Domestic Product and nearly 200 million jobs in the world-wide economy. International tourism arrivals in 2002 exceeded 700 million, generating $US 474.2 billion in worldwide receipts. These figures are forecasted to have an upward trend in 2010.

Jobs generated by Travel & Tourism are spread across the economy – in retail, construction, manufacturing and telecommunications, as well as directly in Travel & Tourism companies. These jobs employ a large proportion of women, minorities and young people; are predominantly in small and medium sized companies; and offer good training and transferability. Tourism can also be one of the most effective drivers for the development of regional economies. These patterns apply to both developed and emerging economies.

The Secretary-General of the World Tourism Organization, Francesco Frangialli, rightly observed that “tourism is a major factor in the war on poverty. For most Developing Countries, LDC’s and Small Island Developing States it is their largest single export and major driver of jobs, investment and economic transformation. It is growing in these countries at significantly higher rates than in OECD states. Also in general these poor countries are most vulnerable to climate change and at the same time are the ones who create the least green house gas emissions. Tourism must be allowed to grow responsibly to these states and actions to curb emissions must take this into account”.

The geographical expansion and labour intensive nature of the Tourism sector provide ?a spread of employment which is particularly relevant in remote and rural areas where ?many of the poor live.

?UNWTO statistics show the growing strength of the tourism industry for developing ?countries:?

  • International tourism receipts for developing countries (low income, lower and ?upper middle income countries) will soon pass more than US$ 250 billion.?
  • Tourism is one of the major export sectors of poor countries and a leading ?source of foreign exchange in 46 of the 49 Least Developed Countries.?

Through its ST-EP programme (Sustainable Tourism – Eliminating Poverty), UNWTO ?has put in place a framework for poverty alleviation, linking its longstanding pursuit of ?sustainable tourism with the United Nations Millennium Development Goals and its own ?Global Code of Ethics.

Funding has been approved for 13 ST-EP projects so far, amounting to around US$1 ?million, benefiting 18 countries (Ethiopia, Gambia, Guinea, Honduras, Kenya, Lao, ?Madagascar, Mali, Mozambique, Tanzania, Vietnam and Zambia, and a regional ?project in West Africa). In parallel, 25 ST-EP projects are being implemented by ?UNWTO with funding from the Netherlands Development Organization (SNV) for a total ?of around € 1.2 million (Albania, Cambodia, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Montenegro, Nepal, ?Niger, Rwanda, SADC countries, Uganda). Italy, is funding 8 ST-EP projects ??(Colombia, Ghana, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Mali), and funding has been approved for ?additional projects during 2007.

International tourist arrivals, 1990-2002

International tourist arrivals




in 2002



























Asia and the Pacific







North-East Asia







South-East Asia














South Asia














Middle East







Source: World Tourism Organization.

Tourism in Asia and the Pacific region

During the period 1990-2002, growth in tourism in Asia and the Pacific outperformed the rest of the world, with arrivals growing by 7.1 per cent annually (compared with 3.7 per cent for the world), increasing the global share from 12.7 per cent in 1990 to 18.7 per cent in 2002. Over the same period, tourism revenue in the region more than doubled, from $US 40.8 billion in 1990 to $US 94.7 billion in 2002. Travel and tourism in the region has created 115 million jobs and made a significant contribution to GDP (North-East Asia, 9 per cent of GDP; South-East Asia, 7.56 per cent; South Asia, 4.87 per cent; Oceania, 13.55 per cent).

Given the broad income and employment figures as well as the impacts outlined above, tourism has considerable potential to contribute to poverty reduction in countries of the region. However, in most countries, tourism initiatives are still only at the pilot stage and the measurement of their impact on the poor is inconsistent. It is also well recognized that there can be leakages of foreign exchange from the tourism sectors and that the distribution of the benefits of tourism varies according t according to the market segment on which the country is focusing. Consequently, two of the challenges in the sector are to design tourism interventions that maximize net foreign exchange gains and focus on the potential of improving the living standards of the poor.

With the increased interest in using tourism as a tool for poverty alleviation, there is clearly a need to develop methodologies and indicators that will enable Governments and other stakeholders to understand the impact of various initiatives on the poor and shape future interventions more effectively. In this connection, preparations are under way to organize a meeting on measuring and assessing the impact of pro-poor tourism initiatives and policies at Bangkok in September 2004. The meeting will bring together a group of practitioners working in poverty and tourism to consider methodologies to measure and assess the impact of pro-poor tourism initiatives.

The rising arrival figures do not necessarily mean that the poorer members of a society will also benefit. Nor are increasing numbers of tourists always welcome at a destination. It is therefore vital that destination managers find ways how the poor can obtain “not crumbs off the table but a share of the cake”. In this context, Dr. SantaMaria introduced seven approaches for achieving benefits for the poor from tourism development:

• direct employment;

• supply of goods and services to enterprises;

• direct sales of goods and services to visitors;

• running of enterprises (SMEs, community-based);

• tax or levy on tourism income;

• voluntary giving / support by enterprises or tourists; and

• investment in infrastructure.

A study was conducted in order to discover how some of these approaches can be supported. To increase the number of poor people who are directly employed in the tourism industry, for example, three main activities can be suggested: the use of international partnerships and teaching support to “catch up” on education and training, the setting up of tourism developments even in isolated rural areas, as well as the support through microfinance initiatives.

The following principles have been adopted by UNWTO and recommended to the governments in connection with Tourism and Poverty Alleviation:

1. Mainstreaming: ensure that sustainable tourism development is included in general poverty elimination programmes. Include poverty elimination measures within overall strategies for the sustainable development of tourism;

2. Partnerships: develop partnerships between international, government, nongovernmental and private sector bodies, with a common aim of poverty alleviation through tourism;

3. Integration: adopt an integrated approach with other sectors and avoid overdependence

on tourism;

4. Equitable distribution: ensure that tourism development strategies focus on more equitable distribution of wealth and services – growth alone is not enough;

5. Acting locally: focus action at a local/destination level, within the context of supportive national policies;

6. Retention: reduce leakages from the local economy and build linkages within it, focusing on the supply chain;

7. Viability: maintain sound financial discipline and assess viability of all actions taken;

8. Empowerment: create conditions which empower and enable the poor to have access to information and to influence and take decisions;

9. Human rights: remove all forms of discrimination against people working or seeking to work in tourism and eliminate any exploitation, particularly against women and children;

10. Commitment: plan action and the application of resources for the long term; and

11. Monitoring: develop simple indicators and systems to measure the impact of tourism on poverty.

Based on these principles, UNWTO’s general programme of work includes a number of activities aimed at maximizing the impact of tourism for the benefit of developing countries in general and LDCs in particular.


There has been an up market trend in the tourism over the last few decades, especially in Europe where international travel for short breaks is common. Tourists have higher levels of disposable income and greater leisure time and they are also better-educated and have more sophisticated tastes. There is now a demand for a better quality products, which has resulted in a fragmenting of the mass market for beach vacations; people want more specialized versions, such as ‘Club 18 -30’, quieter resorts, family-oriented holidays, or niche market-targeted destination hotels. As well, people are taking second short break holidays.

The developments in technology and transport infrastructure such as jumbo jets and low-budget airlines have made many types of tourism more affordable. There have also been changes in lifestyle, such as retiree-age people who living as a tourist all the year round. This is facilitated by internet purchasing of tourism products. Some sites have now started to offer dynamic packaging, in which an inclusive price is quoted for a tailor- made package requested by the customer upon impulse.

There have been a few setbacks in tourism, such as the September 11, 2001 attacks and terrorist threats to tourist destinations such as Bali and European cities. Some of the tourist destinations, including the beach resorts of Cancún have lost popularity due to shifting tastes. In this context, the excessive building and environmental destruction often associated with traditional “sun and beach” tourism may contribute to a destination’s saturation and subsequent decline. Spain’s Costa Brava, a popular 1960s and 1970s beach location is now facing a crisis in its tourist industry. On December 26, 2004 a tsunami, caused by the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake hit Asian countries bordering the Indian Ocean, and also the Maldives. Tens of thousands of lives were lost, and many tourists died. This, together with the vast clean-up operation in place, has stopped or severely hampered tourism to the area.

Sustainable tourism is becoming more popular as people start to realize the devastating effects of poorly planned tourism on communities. Receptive tourism is now growing at a very rapid rate in many developing countries, where it is often the most important economic activity in local Gross Domestic Product.

In recent years, second holidays or vacations have become more popular as people’s discretionary income increases. Typical combinations are a package to the typical mass tourist resort, with a winter skiing holiday or weekend break to a city or national park.

“The development of tourism means, above all, social progress, job ?creation and poverty alleviation”.

` Travel & Tourism has a number of advantages over other industry sectors:

  • it creates jobs and wealth whilst;
  • at the same time, it can contribute to sustainable development;
  • it tends to have low start-up costs;
  • is a viable option in a wide range of areas and regions;
  • is likely to continue to grow for the foreseeable future; and
  • the industry is, in a large part, aware of the need to protect the resource on which it is based – local culture and built and natural environment – and it is committed to these resources’ preservation and enhancement.

Article Source: http://www.articlesbase.com/self-publishing-articles/tourism-a-fight-against-poverty-483188.html

About the Author

lecturer in MBA,
PSNA college of enginering & technology,

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