Tourism, a key economic driver for Least Developed Countries

THE South Pacific Tourism Organisation (SPTO) CEO, Chris Cocker strongly believes that ‘tourism can make a strong contribution to the economies of Least Developed Countries where the sector is a major exporter’ in line with the findings of a recently released report.’

Cocker added, “That in order for the Least Developed Countries to realise the potential tourism offers, there is an urgent need for donors and development partners to make tourism a priority in their funding commitments to the Pacific.

The sector is recorded to have proven consistency in the past decade in being a strong performer generating economic growth, where other sectors like agriculture and manufacturing have performed much weaker.”

Cocker made the observation following the release of a report on, ‘Tourism for Sustainable Development in Least Developed Countries’ by the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), the International Trade Centre (ITC) and the Enhanced Integrated Framework (EIF).

The report was launched at the Aid for Trade Review held in Geneva earlier this month (July)

The report analysed 45 out of 48 Diagnostic Trade Integration Studies and recognised tourism as a key sector for development and trade-related technical assistance in LDCs.

The report aimed to increase the commitment and investment in coordination and raise tourism’s prominence in trade-related technical assistance as to ensure the sector delivers on its powerful capacity to create jobs and incomes where they are most needed and for those who are most vulnerable – including youth and women.

Tourism in the Pacific is employing local people including youth and women, sourcing from local farmers, fishermen, crafters and promoting creative industries to name a few.

SPTO acknowledges the importance of the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development 2017 which the report was launched to coincide with. A few Pacific Island countries have mainstreamed sustainable tourism policies in their national planning strategies and donors and development partners have begun to assist in the implementation of sustainable tourism development projects and programs in PICs.

There are at least five LDC’s within the region (Kiribati, Solomon Islands, Timor Leste, Tuvalu, Vanuatu) and SPTO is working hard to ensure that tourism partners understand this commitment to sustainable tourism and are able to articulate what it means for them as partners in tourism development.

In the context of the universal 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the International Year aims to support a change in policies, business practices and consumer behaviour towards a more sustainable tourism sector that can contribute to all the 17 SDGs.

Tourism and the Enhanced Integrated Framework are included in Goal 8, aiming at building inclusive and sustainable economic growth and creating jobs, thus contributing to the structural transformation of LDCs.