Despite its wide-reaching socio-economic impacts, tourism still receives limited attention as a tool for development. On the occasion of the Third International Conference on Financing for Development (Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, 13-16 July), UNWTO calls 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. Despite being a high impact economic activity, a major job generator and key export sector accounting for 6% of total world trade, tourism receives only 0.78% of the total Aid for Trade (AfT) disbursements and a mere 0.097% of the total Official Development Assistance (ODA).
As world leaders gather at the Third International Conference on Financing for Development, UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai recalled that tourism has been identified by half of the world´s Least Developed Countries (LDCs) 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 Mr Rifai.
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WYSE Travel Confederation, a long-standing Affiliate member of the UNWTO, supports and echo’s Secretary General Rifai’s views that tourism provides a strong framework that can help improved sustainability for many underdeveloped countries around the world and drive economic prosperity.
David Chapman, WYSE Travel Confederation’s Director General, commented, “It is time governments at all levels take a lead role in prioritising the facilitation of tourism investment. Tourism needs to take centre stage and be recognised for its potential as an economic driver.”
WYSE Travel Confederation also highlights the role that the youth, student and educational travel sector plays as a financial contributor to tourism and how attracting youth travellers can help with economic development, sustainability and improved cultural understanding. In 2014, youth travellers accounted for 227 million of the 1,135 million international tourist arrivals and generated nearly USD 250 billion towards international tourism receipts.
“Youth travellers are renowned for spending their money directly with local communities, increasing the local impact of their expenditure,” Mr Chapman added. “Youth travellers are also frequently pioneers of destinations, paving the way for other travellers.”