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Sustainable Tourism in Developing Countries

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Published: Wed, 04 Jul 2018

To what extent can tourism be sustainable in developing countries?

Introduction

Tourism Sustainability

Conclusion

References

Introduction

When one looks at monetary flows, along with the creation of jobs, the tourism sector represents one of the largest industries globally[1]. The preceding aspect is an important one, as tourism provides the opportunity for small and medium sized (5 through 500 employees) businesses to form, along with micro enterprises that typical consist of fewer than six people, and usually represent family operations[2]. These types of enterprises create employment opportunities, and in tourism, particularly in developing countries, the influx of tourist money provides openings for street vendors, cart food services, transport, and other self employment[3]. An example of the importance of micro enterprises and SME’s is provided in an International Finance Corporation report authored by Hallberg[4] that states these types of firms represent the majority of employment. She points out that in Ecuador firms with less than 50 employees represents 99 percent of all enterprises in that country, and 55 percent of employment[5]. In the case of Bangladesh, enterprises with less than 100 employees represented 99 percent of all companies, employing 58 percent of all workers[6].

The preceding has been brought forth to provide the context for this examination in the extent that tourism can be sustainable in developing countries. The point being made is that the hard currency flows represent an economic benefit that is important not only in tourism monies spent, but also as a basis for foreign investment and the creation of opportunities for foreign businesses to set up operations, with tourism as the entree.

The foregoing economic benefits represent a critical facet in approaching and understanding the importance of tourism to developing countries. The preceding importance also holds true for developed countries as well. The importance of tourism in developed countries is brought forth by the Assistant Secretary General of the World Tourism Organization, Geoffrey Lipman, who stated “Showing the full economic impact of the sector in the Index will enhance travel & tourism’s relevance for policy-makers…The Index makes clear that, although industrialized states currently dominate, poorer countries have a massive potential to be the leading force in international tourism,”[7]. The significance of mentioning this Report in the context of this examination is that it provides an analysis of key drivers regarding competitiveness, which are thirteen pillars, as represented by “1. policy rules and regulations, 2. environmental regulation, 3. safety and security, 4. health and hygiene, 5. prioritisation of travel and tourism, 6. air transport infrastructure, 7. ground transport infrastructure, 8. tourism infrastructure, 9. information and communication technology (ICT) infrastructure, 10. price competitiveness, 11. human capital, 12. national tourism perception, and 13. natural and cultural resources[8].

The benefits to a country and its populace as a result of tourism can have long term implications economically, however, the foundations, as set forth by the foregoing pillars, indicates that attaining such a goal requires commitment and a national plan to achieve.

Tourism Sustainability

The preceding brought forth the complexities involved in conducting tourism, highlighting that it is not a segment that can be entered into lightly if long term and sustainable results are to be achieved. An example of the Index illustrates the foregoing:

Chart 1 – Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index – Regulatory Framework

Segments 1 through 5[9]

Pillars

1. Policy 2. Environment 3. Safety 4. Health 5. Priority

Rules Sustainability Security Hygiene T&T

Country

Rank

Score

Rank

Score

Rank

Score

Rank

Score

Rank

Score

Albania

104

3.69

93

4.08

71

4.93

59

476

104

3.55

Argentina

91

3.95

107

3.94

98

4.45

40

5.62

70

4.23

Austria

22

5.04

53

4.63

21

5.85

37

5.72

32

4.92

Bangladesh

114

3.31

121

3.71

129

2.83

117

2.11

122

2.77

Bolivia

127

2.88

104

3.98

92

4.53

14

6.51

91

3.81

Botswana

74

4.13

68

4.42

50

5.26

97

3.24

82

3.95

U.K.

5

5.54

10

5.56

65

5.01

41

5.58

43

4.69

U.S.

19

5.22

100

4.02

119

3.75

44

5.50

21

5.26

Chart 2 – Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index – Regulatory Framework

Segments 6 through 10[10]

Pillars

6. Air 7. Ground 8. Tourism 9. ICT 10 Price

Transport Transport Infrastructure Infrastructure Compettive

Country

Rank

Score

Rank

Score

Rank

Score

Rank

Score

Rank

Score

Albania

112

2.20

116

2.55

86

2.53

86

2.16

90

4.33

Argentina

67

2.94

90

3.05

53

3.91

54

3.03

41

4.94

Austria

29

4.25

10

6.03

1

7.00

20

4.88

104

4.17

Bangladesh

116

2.12

69

3.56

122

1.29

122

1.52

10

5.44

Bolivia

108

2.25

114

2.59

99

2.21

106

1.81

14

5.32

Botswana

77

2.72

72

3.50

78

2.80

92

2.05

6

5.49

U.K.

4

5.65

11

5.85

16

6.18

9

5.46

127

3.44

U.S.

2

6.34

19

5.45

6

6.74

13

5.23

105

4.18

Chart 3 – Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index – Regulatory Framework

Segments 11 through 14[11]

Pillars

11. Human 12. Affinity 13. Natural 14. Cultural

Resources Resources Resources

Country

Rank

Score

Rank

Score

Rank

Score

Rank

Score

Albania

58

5.03

6

6.32

130

1.87

75

2.17

Argentina

60

5.01

74

4.69

12

5.01

41

3.29

Austria

19

5.62

23

5.45

37

4.00

11

5.59

Bangladesh

107

4.26

125

3.95

100

2.61

109

1.44

Bolivia

98

4.60

116

4.18

15

4.86

62

2.45

Botswana

124

3.36

58

4.85

31

4.20

113

1.37

U.K.

7

5.87

90

4.54

27

4.35

4

6.28

U.S.

5

5.91

114

4.29

2

6.04

7

5.83

The preceding Charts provide a summary look at the varied areas that a country needs to consider in order to make tourism work in the face of the high rate of competitiveness. It points out the comparative facets inherent in generating tourism as well as a basis for understanding areas of deficiency and potential strengths in crafting a plan for sustainability. In order to increase and build the tourism sector, the country, its business community as well as populace need to be able to contribute as well as participate in the process. Britton[12] helps us to understand that tourism entails “…travel flows; microscale spatial structure and land use of tourist places and facilities; economic, social, cultural, and environmental impacts of tourist activity; impacts of tourism in third world countries; geographic patterns of recreation and leisure pastimes; and the planning implications of all these topics” as vital areas. In order to arrive at the point of sustainability in tourism, third world countries have to have or be in the process of developing the underlying structures that create and generate attraction for potential visits, with the understanding that other locales are engaging in the same objectives[13].

Thus, sustainability means building upon what currently exists via definitive plans to maintain present levels, and of course enhance them in order to compete effectively. Richards and Hall[14] advise that sustainable tourism represents a broad range of issues, which the Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index illustrated[15]. It, sustainable tourism, includes cultural facets, social accountability, environmental practices, economic considerations, quality of life, safety and security issues in terms of crime and policing. Universally, there is no agreed upon framework for sustainable tourism as the conditions, circumstances and allied facets for countries differ. However, sustainability in tourism is a real factor, one that demands the coordinated and concerned effort of the government, businesses and populace to work. In understanding the sustainability aspects and why such is important, one needs to be mindful of the economic ramifications that are the foundation for the importance attached to tourism by all countries, not just developing ones[16]. Tourism is an economic pursuit, and as such it aids a country, and more specifically city and or region to grow, improve and earn currency from travellers, investment, and new business openings[17]. The importance of tourism as an economic force is evidenced by the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS), which developed the first legally binding multilateral agreement that deals with trade in the tourism sector[18]. Its main provision sets forth the elimination of barriers to prevent foreign service providers and investors from participating in market access[19].

In order to make tourism sustainable, governmental policies, standards and practices need to ensure that there are a series of planned steps to enhance the efforts in the tourist sector, which unfortunately is not usually the case in developing countries[20]. Usually, in developing countries, efforts to promote tourism have been initiated and implemented by the private sector as well as in some cases citizen’s groups[21]. The foregoing represents a core issue in that these types of efforts are doomed to be short term actions based upon surges in popularity of an area generated by avant garde travellers that have discovered a quiet, generally unspoiled location, and other disjointed means that does not have an official plan behind it[22]. As shown by the Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index[23], competition in the tourism segment is marked by a broad number of underlying foundations that require concerted efforts and involvement on the part of the aforementioned government, private business sector, and community. Obvious facets that require government participation on a defined level represent marketing and promotional activities through an official tourist agency, the long term and consistent development of infrastructure related areas such as airports, transport, roads, and other support factors[24].

The United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development[25] points to the importance of national, regional and local governments in planning for sustainable development as the “…providers of social services, builders of economic infrastructure, regulators of economic activity, and managers of the natural environment, local authorities have many direct instruments at their disposal to influence development”. The U.N. Commission on Sustainable Development[26] adds to the preceding by telling us that planned tourism activities are essential to ensure that the local communities have a level playing field in terms of inclusion and involvement concerning the economic wealth generated by tourist activities, along with planning to minimise environmental impacts, and improvement of the social welfare. Tourism is an industry that competes with like locations on the international stage, with many developing countries organised for this area in a concerned manner.

To compete on this level, sustainable tourism must operate like a business. Place or destination marketing is a hallmark in the process, which Gold and Ward[27] advise “… is defined as a process whereby local activities are related as closely as possible to the demands of the targeted customer … (with the intention) to maximise the efficient social and economic functioning of the area concerned, in accordance with whatever wider goals have been established”. Each locale has to identify its special features and communicate the advantages that it has to prospective travelers through concerted efforts. Products and services offered by companies are geared toward the long term, noted by their comprehensive marketing, promotional and related plans to seek competitive advantages, and induce consumer trial[28]. To be effective over the long term, sustainable, destinations need to treat their locales in the same manner that companies do.

Conclusion

Sustainable tourism in developing countries represents an important economic aspect that can help to spur foreign investment in a broader sphere of industrial areas outside of tourism if conducted in a concerted manner. The importance of the preceding is that tourism is an important economic tool that can be utilised for broad range of areas that can benefit a developing country if its government has the vision, commitment and foresight to see the real world implications and demonstrated successes that tourism can bring.

As pointed out, tourism represents a commitment to infrastructure, marketing, promotion, and the involvement of the private business sector along with the local communities that will be impacted to set the foundation for programs, facilities, business opportunities and commercial realisations that benefit the locale. Tourism is a means to change external opinions and perceptions of an area through internally directed programs such as place marketing. While some destinations may have been discovered by travellers or writers and became trendy ‘in spots’ that position will dwindle for the next ‘in spot’ unless the government takes notice and seizes the opportunity to make the location one that stays on the tourist radar. In other instances, locales can be put into the tourist arena as a result of their special circumstances and conditions, such as weather, beaches, lakes, snow, forests, wild animals, monuments and ancient cities, cultural festivals and the like, Whatever the nuance, the building of travel requires planned infrastructure to enhance the experience. Easy transport access, rent cars, power, Internet lines, police, etc. Sustainable tourism requires sustainable efforts in order to make it work.

References

Apostolopoulos, Y., Gayle, D. (2002) Island Tourism and Sustainable Development: Caribbean, Pacific, and Mediterranean Experiences. Praeger Publishers. Westport, CT, United States

Beirman, D. (2003) Restoring Tourism Destinations in Crisis: A Strategic Marketing Approach. Allen & Unwin. Crows Nest, New South Wales

Britton, S. (1991) Tourism, capital and place: towards a critical geography of tourism. Vol. 9. No. 4. Environment and Planning Development

Bull, A. (1995) The economics of travel and tourism. Longman Press. Melbourne, Australia

Coleman, S., Crang, M. (2002) Tourism: Between Place and Performance. Berghahn Books. New York, New York, United States

Duffy-Smith, M. (2003) The Ethics of Tourism Development. Routledge. London, United Kingdom

Font, X., Bendell, J. (2002) Standards for Sustainable Tourism for the Purpose of Multilateral Trade Negotiations. World Tourism Organisation. Madrid, Spain

Gold, J., Ward, S. (1994) Place Promotion: The Use of Publicity and Marketing to Sell Towns and Regions. John H. Wiley & Sons. New York, New York, United States

Hallberg, K. (2001) A Market-Oriented Strategy for Small and Medium Scale Enterprises- International Finance Corporation. Discussion Paper 40. Washington, D.C., United States

Mahdi, A., Osman, M. (2000) An Assessment of the Effectiveness of Small and Micro-Enterprise Finance in Employment Creation. Retrieved on 6 January 2009 from http://www.iceg.org/NE/projects/labor/epicfinal.pdf

Mowforth, M., Munt, I. (2003) Tourism & Sustainability: Development and Tourism in the Third World. Routledge. London, United Kingdom

Richards, G., Hall, D. (2000) Tourism and Sustainable Community Development. Routledge. London, United Kingdom

Porter, M. (1980) Competitive Strategy: Techniques of Analysing Industries and Competitors. Free Press. New York, New York, United States

The U.N. Commission on Sustainable Development (1999) Tourism and Sustainable Development: The Global Importance of Tourism. The U.N. Commission on Sustainable Development. New York, New York, United States

UNCTAD (2002) Growing Micro and Small Enterprises in LDCs. UNCTAD, New York, United States

United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development (1999) Tourism and Sustainable Development: Sustainable Tourism, A Local Authority Perspective. United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development, New York, New York, United States

World Economic Forum (2007) The World Economic Forum’s First Ever Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report. 1 March 2007. Retrieved on 6 January 2009 from http://www.weforum.org/en/media/Latest Press Releases/Tourismpressrelease

World Travel and Tourism Organisation (1999) The Global Importance of Tourism. Commission on Sustainable Development. World Travel and Tourism Organisation, New York, New York, United States

1


Footnotes

[1] World Travel and Tourism Organisation (1999) The Global Importance of Tourism. Commission on Sustainable Development. World Travel and Tourism Organisation, New York, New York, United States

[2] UNCTAD (2002) Growing Micro and Small Enterprises in LDCs. UNCTAD, New York, United States

[3] Mahdi, A., Osman, M. (2000) An Assessment of the Effectiveness of Small and Micro-Enterprise Finance in Employment Creation. Retrieved on 6 January 2009 from http://www.iceg.org/NE/projects/labor/epicfinal.pdf

[4] Hallberg, K. (2001) A Market-Oriented Strategy for Small and Medium Scale Enterprises- International Finance Corporation. Discussion Paper 40. Washington, D.C., United States

[5] Ibid

[6] Ibid

[7] World Economic Forum (2007) The World Economic Forum’s First Ever Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report. 1 March 2007. Retrieved on 6 January 2009 from http://www.weforum.org/en/media/Latest Press Releases/Tourismpressrelease

[8] Ibid

[9] World Economic Forum (2007) The World Economic Forum’s First Ever Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report. 1 March 2007. Retrieved on 6 January 2009 from http://www.weforum.org/en/media/Latest Press Releases/Tourismpressrelease

[10] World Economic Forum (2007) The World Economic Forum’s First Ever Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report. 1 March 2007. Retrieved on 6 January 2009 from http://www.weforum.org/en/media/Latest Press Releases/Tourismpressrelease

[11] World Economic Forum (2007) The World Economic Forum’s First Ever Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report. 1 March 2007. Retrieved on 6 January 2009 from http://www.weforum.org/en/media/Latest Press Releases/Tourismpressrelease

[12] Britton, S. (1991) Tourism, capital and place: towards a critical geography of tourism. Vol. 9. No. 4. Environment and Planning Development. p. 451

[13] Mowforth, M., Munt, I. (2003) Tourism & Sustainability: Development and Tourism in the Third World. Routledge. London, United Kingdom. p. 6

[14] Richards, G., Hall, D. (2000) Tourism and Sustainable Community Development. Routledge. London, United Kingdom. P. 9

[15] World Travel and Tourism Organisation (1999) The Global Importance of Tourism. Commission on Sustainable Development. World Travel and Tourism Organisation, New York, New York, United States

[16] Bull, A. (1995) The economics of travel and tourism. Longman Press. Melbourne, Australia. p. 23

[17] Apostolopoulos, Y., Gayle, D. (2002) Island Tourism and Sustainable Development: Caribbean, Pacific, and Mediterranean Experiences. Praeger Publishers. Westport, CT, United States. p. 11

[18] Font, X., Bendell, J. (2002) Standards for Sustainable Tourism for the Purpose of Multilateral Trade Negotiations. World Tourism Organisation. Madrid, Spain

[19] Ibid

[20] Duffy-Smith, M. (2003) The Ethics of Tourism Development. Routledge. London, United Kingdom. p. 9

[21] Beirman, D. (2003) Restoring Tourism Destinations in Crisis: A Strategic Marketing Approach. Allen & Unwin. Crows Nest, New South Wales. p. 222

[22] Ibid

[23] World Economic Forum (2007) The World Economic Forum’s First Ever Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report. 1 March 2007. Retrieved on 6 January 2009 from http://www.weforum.org/en/media/Latest Press Releases/Tourismpressrelease

[24] Coleman, S., Crang, M. (2002) Tourism: Between Place and Performance. Berghahn Books. New York, New York, United States. p. 53

[25] United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development (1999) Tourism and Sustainable Development: Sustainable Tourism, A Local Authority Perspective. United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development, New York, New York, United States

[26] The U.N. Commission on Sustainable Development (1999) Tourism and Sustainable Development: The Global Importance of Tourism. The U.N. Commission on Sustainable Development. New York, New York, United States

[27] Gold, J., Ward, S. (1994) Place Promotion: The Use of Publicity and Marketing to Sell Towns and Regions. John H. Wiley & Sons. New York, New York, United States. p. 41

[28] Porter, M. (1980) Competitive Strategy: Techniques of Analysing Industries and Competitors. Free Press. New York, New York, United States. pp. 34-36


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