Despite its wide-reaching socio-economic impacts, tourism still receives limited attention as a tool for development, argues the UNWTO.
During the third International Conference on Financing for Development, the organisation called for higher support for tourism in international financing for development flows to maximise the sector’s contribution to sustainable development across the globe.
Tourism’s underrepresentation in international financing for development flows remains a critical hurdle to overcome in order to fully deploy its development potential, the UNWTO said.
Despite being a high impact economic activity, a major job generator and key export sector accounting for six per cent of total world trade, tourism receives only 0.78 per cent of the total Aid for Trade disbursements and a mere 0.097 per cent of the total Official Development Assistance.
As world leaders gather at the conference, UNWTO secretary general Taleb Rifai recalled that tourism has been identified by half of the world´s Least Developed Countries as a priority instrument for poverty reduction.
“For an increasing number of developing countries tourism means jobs, poverty eradication, community development, and the protection of natural and cultural heritage.
“Yet, in order to maximise tourism’s contribution to the development objectives, it is critical to address the disparity between the sector’s capacity to foster development and the low priority it has been given so far in terms of financial support in the development cooperation agenda,” said Rifai.
Tourism’s cross-cutting nature and multiple links to other economic sectors positions it as an effective multiplier in global development strategies as tourism often provides one of the few competitive options for developing countries to take part in the global economy.
The sector is crucial for the Least Developed Countries.
In 2013, the 49 LDC countries received 24 million international overnight visitors and earned US$18 billion from international tourism.
This represented eight per cent of total exports of goods and services of LDCs, and 12 per cent for the non-oil exporters among them.
Tourism was in fact one of the main contributors behind the graduation of Botswana, The Maldives and Cabo Verde from their previous LDC status.