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Tourism as a Global Development Tool


Tourism is now generally recognized to be one of the largest industries — if not the largest — in the world. It has grown rapidly and almost continuously over the past twenty years, and is now one of the world’s most significant sources of employment and of GDP. Tourism particularly benefits the economies of developing countries, where most of the sector’s new tourism jobs and businesses are being created. This rapid growth has encouraged many developing nations to view tourism as key to promoting economic growth, and global development assistance agencies see it as having real potential to help achieve many of their own development goals.

Tourism provides opportunities for diversifying local economies and promoting formation of micro- and small enterprises, many of them women-owned. These enterprises promote better lives for poor entrepreneurs, especially in rural areas where there may be few other livelihood options. Tourism is generally labor intensive and it tends to employ relatively higher proportions of women and young people than most other sectors. Tourism introduces technology and basic infrastructure, and strengthens linkages with the outside world. Well-planned and -implemented tourism projects can improve local governance, natural resources management, biodiversity conservation and other important development goals.

It is critical to remember that the rich and diverse biophysical environments found in many of the world's least developed countries must remain healthy in order for successful, sustained tourism enterprises to develop and endure. The very resources that supply these countries with their competitive edge are in many places being degraded, and tourism cannot endure as a useful tool for meeting development objectives unless this trend is reversed and the resources provided with adequate protection.

For more information:

Roberta Hilbruner(EGAT/ENV/ENR)

Tourism as a Global Devolpment Tool


USAID Project Highlights

USAID Training Course in Sustainable Tourism (Arusha, Tanzania, Feb 2006




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