UNWTO Stresses on More Financing in Tourism for Sustainable Development Worldwide

Conrad Rangali

Maldives.net.mv – United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has called for more support to tourism in terms of financing, for development flows to maximise the sector´s contribution to sustainable development across the globe. At the Third International Conference on Financing for Development, which is taking place in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia till tomorrow, Dr Taleb Rifai, Secretary General, UNWTO, 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,” Dr Rifai stated.

“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 six per cent of total world trade, tourism receives only 0.78 per cent of the total Aid for Trade (AfT) disbursements and a mere 0.097 per cent of the total Official Development Assistance (ODA),” UNWTO states in a release.

The UN body points out that tourism’s cross-cutting nature and multiple links to other economic sectors positions it as an effective multiplier in global development strategies, as tourism often provides one of the few competitive options for developing countries to take part in the global economy. “The sector is crucial for LDCs – in 2013, the 49 LDCs received 24 million international overnight visitors and earned USD 18 billion from international tourism. This represented eight per cent of total exports of goods and services of LDCs, and 12 per cent for the non-oil exporters among them. Tourism was in fact one of the main contributors to the graduation of Botswana, The Maldives, and Cabo Verde from their previous LDC status,” UNWTO noted.

In 2014, emerging and developing countries received 513 million international tourists or 45 per cent of all international tourist arrivals in the world, as compared with 38 per cent in 2000. UNWTO forecasts this share to surpass that of advanced economies in the coming years and to reach 57 per cent by 2030.

According to Dr Rifai, 2015 is the year for action. “As we move forward to adopt a new sustainable development agenda, we have a unique opportunity to raise the level of assistance in tourism to further harness its vast potential for stimulating green growth and inclusive development worldwide, particularly for the countries most in need.”

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