The Contribution of Tourism to Economic Growth and Food Security
Many developing countries have managed to increase their participation in the global economy through development of international tourism. Tourism development is increasingly viewed as an important tool in promoting economic growth, alleviating poverty, and advancing food security. This briefing note aims to review the relationship between tourism and poverty reduction, and to explore how investment in tourism development in Mali may contribute to national development goals. Numerous studies have demonstrated that tourism can play a significant role in balanced sustainable development, and that it can be effectively harnessed to generate net benefits for the poor (UNWTO, 2002). Tourism is a principal export for 83% of developing countries, and it is the most significant source of foreign exchange after petroleum. Figure 1 illustrates that the rate of tourism growth in lower-middle income developing countries and in the 50 least developed countries (LDCs) has been approximately double the world average growth rate in recent years, and almost triple the growth rate for high income countries. Developing countries’ share of international tourist arrivals more than doubled from 1973 to 2000 (UNWTO, 2002). Tourism comprises a significant part of the world’s growing service sector; in sub-Saharan Africa, tourism accounts for approximately 55% of service sector exports (UNWTO, 2004).
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