SW Associates, LLC: Sustainable Development through Tourism

Four Reasons Tourism is Strategic for Economic Growth

UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai gave an interesting today in Madrid in which he highlighted four key reasons why tourism is a strategic pillar for fostering economic growth and promoting employment. Here is an excerpt from his speech:

1. Tourism creates jobs at a rate higher than many other sectors.

We all know tourism is one of the most labor intensive sectors, yet it is also one that creates jobs at a comparatively higher rate. Data shows that in the EU, during the last decade, the annual growth rate of employment in the tourism sector has almost always been higher than the growth rate of total employment.

More important even, tourism jobs cannot be de-localized so they create job opportunities that remain in the country while opening 6
possibilities for employment in rural and interior parts of the territory.

2. Tourism creates wealth and jobs not just in tourism, but in many other sectors

At a time in which many economies face domestic constraints on consumption, international tourism brings not only direct export
revenues, but also a very significant indirect impact through its enormous value chain. At their destinations, tourists travel by
local bus or taxi, taste the local gastronomy and wines, buy local produce ensuring jobs and sleep in a hotel which buys linen from
the factories of the country.

3. Tourism is one of the most resilient economic sectors

If there is one characteristic that is critical in facing today’s challenges that is resilience: the flexibility and capacity to adapt
to changing conditions and recover from setbacks. Indeed, looking back on past decades, we see that international tourism
decreased on only three occasions: in 2001 (-0.4%), following September 11, in 2003 (-1.6%) due to the SARS outbreak and in
2009 (-3.8%) in the middle of one of the worst global economic crises of our time.

More importantly, international tourism demand always bounced back stronger with growth rates much above the average. If
tourism is important in the good times, during a crisis it is vital.

4. Tourism is a key sector in the transformation to the Green Economy

The United Nations identified tourism as one of 11 sectors that are vital to greening the global economy. With the right investment, tourism can be a lead change agent in the move to a Green Economy by driving economic growth and job creation while simultaneously improving resource efficiency, minimizing environmental degradation and raising environmental awareness among travelers.

Click here for the full speech.

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