Tourism Can Make the World A Better Place

The United Nations (UN) designated 2017 the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development.  Why?  Tourism brings people to places they’ve never traveled, encouraging cross-cultural understanding—and bringing business to those places.

With eco-tourism and other forms of “responsible” travel on the rise, consider some salient reasons why sustainable tourism may offer you a chance to make a difference by using your entrepreneurial and business savvy.

Done the right way, sustainable tourism will make the world a better place.  Let’s find out how—and what to look out for:

1. Fast-growing Economic Sector

One of the fastest growing sectors not just in tourism, but in the whole economy, sustainable tourism stimulates economic growth and job creation.  When tourism is “sustainable,” there is an implied permanence—and a conservation of resources.  As sustainable tourism takes off, the need for jobs to protect wildlife, biodiversity, and fragile ecosystems for people to visit becomes clear—as does the need for experts who can act as “tour guides” of a sustainable tourist destination.  In addition, tourists need places to stay, places to eat, and things to do.  See #2 and #4.

2. Tourism Linked to Development

Sustainable tourism generates jobs, which generates increases in incomes, which creates options for people—and allows them to improve their quality of life.

Consider the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development (AKFED), an international development agency that promotes private entrepreneurship in the developing world.  One of their subsidiaries includes Tourism Promotion Services, which owns and manages 26 hotels, resorts, lodges, and camps in Africa and Asia—all under one brand name.  Their goal?  To catalyze local growth of private sector ventures by coalescing international investment, business skills, and local knowledge.  AKFED focuses on using local or regional suppliers whenever possible, relying on local networks, offering internship opportunities for local youth, and building local infrastructure, in addition to building its properties.  One project that AKFED has encouraged?  Access to clean drinking water in places where they have projects.

For more examples of how tourism and development are linked, check out Harvard University’s report on “The Role of the Tourism Sector in Expanding Economic Opportunity.”