13 May 11 - Opportunities in the tourism sector for the poorest countries

LDC IVBy the end of this decade, half of the world's 48 least developed countries (LDCs) will potentially rely on the tourism sector as their leading source of export earnings, UNCTAD's Secretary General said. He spoke at an event held during the Fourth UN Least Developed Countries Conference, in Istanbul, on 10 May.

Over the last few decades, tourism has become a major contributor to developing countries' growth and development. For the least developed countries (LDCs), tourism accounts currently for approximately 9% of goods and services exports and 65% of commercial services exports. In 22 LDCs, international tourism is among the top three foreign-exchange earners.

These were some of the figures presented by UNCTAD Secretary-General Supachai Panitchpakdi at a session titled "Promoting Tourism for Sustainable Development and Poverty Reduction and Decent Work". The event was held during the Fourth UNLDC Conference and was organized by the UN Steering Committee for Tourism and Development.

Mr. Supachai pointed to the ability of the tourism sector to stimulate economy-wide growth through linkages with other sectors, notably agriculture and construction. Benefits also arise, he noted, from stable incomes generated through employment in the tourist industry and from "spillover" effects elsewhere in LDC economies, such as in transport services, handicrafts, hotels, restaurants, and small-scale tourism enterprises.

UNCTAD already has taken initiatives to examine these issues. Its work on National Services Policy Reviews provides governments with recommendations on how to maximize the socio-economic impact of their services sector, which includes tourism. UNCTAD's Creative Economy Report 2010 showed the relationship between tourism and the creative economy, which provides goods and cultural services for the tourist market.

Making tourism work for national development requires sound policymaking through a comprehensive national tourism strategy which includes both the State and the private sector, Mr. Supachai said. It also means striving to eliminate the negative effects of tourism, ensuring decent work conditions, and enabling participation of the poor in a manner beneficial to them. Some of these efforts require coordination on the national, regional, and international levels.

The Secretary-General said he is happy to note that tourism as a sector has received significant attention during the LDC IV conference. He restated the organization's firm commitment to supporting LDCs in their efforts to benefit from tourism in close collaboration with the partner organizations of the Steering committee.

The UN Steering Committee on Tourism for Development (SCTD) builds on the UN commitment to ´Delivering as One´ and will ensure the delivery of a more effective and coordinated technical assistance in order to make tourism work for development.

Members of the SCTD: International Labour Organization (ILO), International Trade Centre (ITC), UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), UN Development Programme (UNDP), UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), UN Environment Programme (UNEP), UN Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), World Trade Organization (WTO)

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