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?
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?
Gary Gereffi and Dev Nathan
- Ashley, C & Mitchell, J. (2005) Can tourism accelerate pro-poor growth in Africa? Overseas Development Institute Opinions, No. 60 November 2005. London: ODI. [PDF, 70kb]
- Bolwell, D. & Weinz, W. (2008) Reducing poverty through tourism, International Labour Office Working Paper 266. Geneva: ILO. [PDF, 954kb]
- Jamieson, W. et al (2004) Contribution of tourism to poverty alleviation: pro-poor tourism and the problems of measuring impacts. UN ESCAP Paper, November 2004. [PDF, 163kb]
- World Bank (2009) How tourism can (and does) benefit the poor and the environment – a case study from Panama, Enbreve, Responsible Tourism Series, No. 146. August 2009. Washington: World Bank. [PDF, 326KB]