Tourism for Development in the Least Developed Countries


Geneva, 11 July 2017


Today, the joint EIF/UNWTO/ITC study "Tourism for Development in Least Developed Countries: Mobilizing and Coordinating Resources for Tourism with the Enhanced Integrated Framework" was launched at a side event at the Sixth Global Review for Aid for Trade at the WTO in Geneva.


Tourism is one of the largest and fastest-growing sectors in the world, representing nearly 10% of the world's GDP and 30% of global services exports, providing 1 out of every 11 jobs in the world. The study looked at how the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) have been using EIF-funded analytical studies to identify and prioritize their tourism-related needs and how this can be improved in the future. 


"2017 is the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, which aims to support a change in policies, business practices and consumer behaviour towards a more sustainable tourism sector that can contribute to all of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals, especially in the LDCs," Mr Márcio Favilla, UNWTO Executive Director, said. "Tourism is of particular value for the LDCs, where it represents 7% of total exports of goods and services, a figure that stands at 10% for non‑oil LDC exporters," he added.


"Despite its wide-reaching and well-documented socio-economic impacts, tourism still receives insufficient attention as a tool for development. Only 0.4% of total Aid for Trade disbursements goes to the tourism sector," said Mr Ratnakar Adhikari, Executive Director of the Executive Secretariat for the EIF. "The EIF, as the only Aid for Trade development programme exclusively designed for the LDCs, invests 11% of its productive capacity‑building portfolio in building productive capacity for tourism".


The study found that the EIF can be a powerful catalyst for leveraging Aid for Trade resources for tourism development, but that a better understanding of the EIF by tourism ministries and a closer dialogue with trade ministries could lead to substantial improvements in addressing tourism‑related needs. The research provides a roadmap for making tourism part of an inclusive and sustainable growth strategy for the LDCs by creating jobs and as a result, reducing poverty and inequality.


"Tourism is a priority for sector development in 45 out of 48 LDCs. However, there are a number of challenges for tourism development, ranging from infrastructure and access to policy regulations to investment and business environment," said Ms Zoritsa Urosevic, UNWTO Representative to the UN in Geneva.


Ms Marion Jensen, ITC Chief Economist, highlighted the need to ensure alignment to each country context, involve stakeholders from the tourism sector and provide guidance on how to take tourism into account in the EIF analytical work.


Focusing on Africa, continental and intraregional tourism was increasing opportunities for economic and export diversification by boosting the competitiveness of destinations, Mr Paul Akiwumi, Director, Division for Africa, LDCs and Special Programmes from UNCTAD, further expounded.


Currently, the EIF supports tourism projects in Burundi, Cambodia, Djibouti, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu. Several LDC Ministers attending the study launch spoke about the importance of tourism for their economies.


H.E. Mr Axel M. Addy, Minster of Commerce and Industry, Liberia, shared Liberia's experience on developing a tourism strategy as part of the post-WTO accession deliverables, whilst, Hon. Joe Natuman, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Tourism, Trade, Commerce and Ni‑Vanuatu Business of Vanuatu, emphasized the importance of tourism in Vanuatu: "Tourism accounts for 40% of GDP in Vanuatu. Reconstruction of the seafront project funded by New Zealand and the EIF will support greater inter-sectoral linkages and will contribute to the country's socio-economic development." Complementing the Deputy Prime Minister, H.E. Dr David Walker, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of New Zealand to the WTO, emphasized, "Redevelopment of the seafront in Vanuatu will allow for visitors to spend more time in the country, thereby supporting small local businesses and farmers. This project is also important for institutional capacity‑building, with the Project Management Unit in Vanuatu now working on another big infrastructure project for the reconstruction of the airport."


Although research found that trade and tourism stakeholders consider the EIF analytical work as a useful vehicle for better understanding tourism‑related issues, the research also found that it is scarcely used for communication with donors on tourism‑related technical assistance, neither on the trade side nor on the tourism side. This may be due to the fact that trade and tourism communities each have their separate mechanisms for resource allocation. 


H.E. Mr Deepak Dhital, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Nepal to the WTO, emphasized the role of public-private partnerships and resource‑leveraging for tourism development.


The EIF partnership will be working together to improve linkages between trade and tourism in the future, thus ensuring that the LDCs receive the necessary resources to fully realize their tourism potential.



Notes to the editors: 


The Enhanced Integrated Framework (EIF) brings together partners and resources to support the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) in using trade for poverty reduction, inclusive growth and sustainable development. The EIF is a global partnership between the LDCs, Donors and International Agencies, underpinned by a multi-donor trust fund, which provides financial and technical support to build trade capacity in 47 LDCs and 4 graduated countries. The EIF is the only global Aid for Trade (AfT) programme exclusively designed for the LDCs and therefore is uniquely placed to assist the countries to develop sustainable trade strategies. Through a multilateral approach, the EIF ensures a coordinated, transparent and efficient delivery of AfT. The EIF is recognized under Goal 8a of the Sustainable Development Goals.


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Read the newly launched publication, Tourism for Sustainable Development in Least Developed Countries. Leveraging Resources for Sustainable Tourism with the Enhanced Integrated Framework