20 Reasons You Should Integrate Tourism into Your Development Agenda

Guest Contribution by: Louise Twining-Ward, The World Bank / Co-Author: Damien Shiels, The World Bank 

Sustainable tourism is a proven tool for development, benefitting communities in destinations around the world. A new World Bank Group report released on World Tourism Day explains 20 Reasons to Integrate Tourism in Your Development Agenda. The paper, which also celebrates the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, explains how sustainable tourism counts not just for travelers, but for tourism destinations and local residents.


Here are some of the highlights.

Sustainable Economic Growth

1. Stimulates GDP Growth: Worth USD7.6 trillion dollars, the travel and tourism sector accounts for more than 10% of global GDP, and represents 7% of all international trade and 30% of the world’s export in services.

2. Increases International Trade: Worth USD1.4 trillion in export earnings, tourism is the third world’s largest global export.

3. Boosts International Investment: Tourism and hospitality is now the second fastest-growing industry in terms of foreign direct investment (FDI).

4. Drives Infrastructure Development: Tourism sector development often results in improvements in basic infrastructure, such as airports, roads, water supply, energy, and medical services.

5. Supports Low-Income Economies: In 2015, the world’s 48 lower income and lower middle income countries received 29 million international tourist arrivals (nearly a threefold increase in a decade) and earned USD21 billion from international tourism.

Social Inclusiveness, Employment, and Poverty Reduction

6. Creates Jobs Efficiently: The second largest-job generator, travel and tourism supported 292 million jobs, or one in ten jobs in 2016.

7. Promotes Inclusive Growth: Tourism is labor intensive and has the potential to reach and benefit large numbers of people thanks to its wide supply chain.

8. Strengthens Rural Communities: Rural tourism supports economic diversification and creates jobs for rural youth and ethnic minorities.

9. Revitalizes Urban Areas: As urban populations surge globally, many cities pursue tourism-based urban regeneration for its potential to create jobs, improve infrastructure, and attract investments.

10. Improves Access to Income via Travel Tech: Digital platforms are transforming the way travel is researched, purchased, provided and experienced, which offers many new, more informal ways to earn money through tourism.

11. Benefits Women: Women make up 60 to 70% of tourism-industry workers and tourism is one of the few sectors where female labor participation is already above parity in some regions.

12. Bolsters Artisans: Artisans benefit from selling their crafts to tourists, which opens them up to the global market.

Resource Efficiency, Environmental Protection, and Climate Change

13. Facilitates Conservation: Nature-based tourism is in high demand, which not only increases the value placed on unspoiled nature and wildlife, it generates funds used for conservation.

14. Raises Climate Change Awareness: Tourism is often an innovator of sustainable consumption and production, and climate change awareness.

15. Propels the Blue Economy: Tourism accounts for an estimated 26% of ocean-based economic activity, making it a key driver of the blue economy and increasing the value of marine conservation.

Cultural Values, Diversity, and Heritage

16. Protects Cultural Sites: Visitor spending on entrance tickets, guides and souvenirs contributes to capital needed for the protection of important cultural sites.

17. Sustains Intangible Culture: Tourism can protect or revive intangible cultural heritage, music, performing arts, and oral traditions.

Mutual Understanding, Peace and Security

18. Spreads Philanthropy: Tourism can be an effective way to engage visitors in philanthropy.

19. Cultivates Intercultural Understanding: Meeting diverse peoples and experiencing other cultures via tourism play a critical role in promoting peace, security, and intercultural understanding.

20. Aids Post-Conflict Recovery: Tourism has served as a post-conflict recovery tool for many fragile and conflict situations (FCS).

Read the full evidence case on 20 Reasons Sustainable Tourism Counts for Development.

More than 50 years after the World Bank financed its first tourism for development projects in Morocco and Tunisia the evidence case for tourism as a sustainable development model is stronger than ever. This World Tourism Day we call on colleagues, partners, and governments to explore the full potential of tourism as a development tool.

This post was originally published on the World Bank Group Private Sector Development Blog.

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