economic and social upgrading
in global production networks

Sector Overview: Tourism

Exotic holidays in developing countries may be a new lifestyle choice for well-heeled consumers. But what benefits do they bring to the lives of people who work and live there?

Venezuela - local  children watch tourist planes

Travel and tourism is one of the world’s most prosperous services sectors, contributing more than 9% to global GDP and employing more than 220 million people across the North and the South.
For many developing countries, tourism is a vital source of foreign exchange earnings and a vibrant sector supporting large numbers of jobs and livelihoods. But how are local suppliers and workers, often women, affected by the growth of tourism? What are the implications for local communities in destination countries?

Key research focus areas:
  • Mass tourism. Examining ‘sun, sand and surf’ tourism models and their impact on poorer producers and workers in low-income countries. What is the influence of multinational hotel chains and package holiday providers in tourism global production networks (GPNs)? How can their activities promote better outcomes for local suppliers and workers?
  • Indigenous tourism. Looking at the rise in tourism models based on interaction with local communities, often with a dual focus on eco-tourism. Does this represent a significant shift from ‘sun, sand, and surf’ mass tourism packages? How could they offer new opportunities for host communities to improve their lives and livelihoods?
  • Regionalisation. How are regional production networks evolving in tourism? For example, what impact has Chinese tourism had on neighbouring countries such as Vietnam and Cambodia? How can governments support suppliers and workers in those countries?
  • Gender & migration. Examining how tourism impacts upon poorer women in developing countries. Sometimes through creation of high skilled, relatively well-paid jobs in hotel receptions, but also through the use (and abuse) of low-paid migrant labour in tourist destinations. What strategies are there to promote decent work for vulnerable women and migrant workers?
Research Contacts:

Gary Gereffi and Dev Nathan

Useful Resources