Discernible Growth vs. a Straggling Industry
There are several inconsistencies in the role that tourism plays in contributing to economic opportunity in developing countries. By solving these inconsistencies, companies in the industry have the opportunity to take on guiding roles that not only benefit the industry, but also the community.
The paradox lies in the obvious growth of the industry, which does not quite tie in with the statistics.
In the past ten years, tourism has experienced tremendous growth. Within the United Nations, major contributions have been made, particularly to:
– Promote the importance of tourism to some of the least advanced countries
– Promote sustainable tourism
– Enhance the development of communities
There are also several companies and individuals initiating ventures geared to bringing economic improvement to remote areas by partnering with local communities. Initiatives include sourcing crafts and fresh produce and community training of tour guides and other local workers in the tourism industry.
It Is Still Lagging Behind
Despite the positive projects underway and the obvious progress, research tells a different story. Studies conducted by Price Waterhouse Coopers and the World Bank show that tourism is lingering well behind other industries. Even though tourism is benefiting developing countries, it is not known whether the overall impact is positive, particularly the impact of international chain hotels and large-scale holiday complexes. Most of the initiatives have been focused on the environment and philanthropy.
Narrowing the Gap
Although tourism is inherently commercial, the industry also has to heed corporate responsibility. The global potential for pioneering business practices that purposely expand economic growth has yet to be fully realized. Best practices can be defined and implemented by exploring how tourism companies can contribute to developing countries through expanding economic opportunity. The bottom line is to merge commercial reality with development impact.