UN comes together to promote tourism for development

Tourism has been identified by more than half of the world’s poorest countries as an effective means to take part in the global economy and reduce poverty. To maximize tourism’s role in helping countries reach their development goals, UNWTO has come together with seven UN agencies and programmes to boost tourism as an instrument for development.


Tourism is increasingly a major, if not the main, source of growth, employment, income and revenue for many of the world’s developing countries. The sector is currently the first or second source of export earnings in 20 of the 48 Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and is demonstrating steady growth in at least 10 others. As such, tourism has become one of the main engines of socioeconomic progress for many countries and a development priority for a majority of the LDCs.

In order to better position tourism in the development agenda and maximize this potential, UNWTO has come together with seven UN agencies and programmes – the International Labour Organization (ILO), International Trade Centre (ITC), UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), UN Development Programme (UNDP), UN Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the World Trade Organization (WTO) – to create the UN Steering Committee on Tourism for Development (SCTD).

By harnessing the strengths and expertise of each agency and creating synergies between UN organizations, the Committee will deliver more coordinated, effective and efficient technical assistance and support to developing countries.

One of the first activities of the Committee will be the holding of a Special Tourism Event at the Fourth UN Conference on Least Developed Countries (LDC-IV) to be celebrated in Istanbul, Turkey, 10 May 2011.

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The event, ‘Promoting Tourism for Sustainable Development and Poverty Reduction’, will set the scene for a new international framework for development through tourism, providing the opportunity for LDCs, UN agencies and key players of donor countries and other institutions to find ways to foster tourism for development and create mechanisms for LDCs as they seek to combat poverty, diversify their economies and pursue inclusive growth strategies.

The role of tourism in increasing LDCs’ participation in the global economy, and as a means of poverty reduction, will be the focus of the World Export Development Forum (WEDF), the International Trade Centre’s flagship event, held this year at LDC-IV in partnership with UNWTO (Istanbul, Turkey, 10-11 May 2011). The WEDF will focus on the role of the private sector for tourism-led growth and inclusive sustainable development through the creation of key pilot projects.