Tourism represents 7% of total export of goods and services among the least developed countries (LDCs), according to a recent report.

‘Tourism for Sustainable Development in Least Developed Countries’, compiled by the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), the Enhanced Integrated Framework and the International Trade Centre, has been released to coincide with the United Nations’ International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development.


Despite tourism’s positive contribution to trade, however, the report notes: “It is often difficult to direct trade-related technical assistance towards the sector because tourism and trade tend to fall under different line ministries.” Successful policies, it recommends, “require strong collaboration across government agencies as well as different actors at the regional or local level,” which the International Year aims to promote.

The report’s findings are backed up by the UNWTO World Tourism Barometer for the first quarter of 2017, which revealed a 6% growth worldwide in international tourist arrivals. Significantly, destinations that had previously struggled experienced a rebound. This is illustrated by results for Africa (up 8%), Asia-Pacific (6%) and the Americas (4%), which suggest robust growth for the sector in developing regions.

“Investment can ensure that tourism can continue to contribute to socio-economic inclusiveness and development in the long term,” says Olivia Ruggles-Brise, policy and communications director at the World Travel & Tourism Council. “It is important that destinations put the right policies in place to safeguard their assets. For example if certain places are in danger of overcrowding, we encourage them to think about solutions through which the tourists that visit can actually help sustain or rebuild the environment and cultural heritage.”

“Furthermore, we believe it is of extreme importance that the income generated by tourism is invested back into the local communities,” she adds. “This will help stimulate empowerment, jobs, and therefore the country’s economy.”