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Sustainable Tourism

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Analysis and strategy statements on these thematic areas were elaborated in the first draft of the Annual Plan 2005-2006, as result of consultations of stakeholders in a series of workshops held in Thimphu, Bhutan, November 2005.

Tourism is one of the largest growing industries based on its contribution to Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Tourism is a key component of all the partner country service industries as it gives economic value to its cultural heritage, creates employment, generates foreign exchange and has the power to provide significant earnings that can be directed towards alleviating poverty and in achieving the Millennium Development Goals. At the World Tourism Fair in Berlin (October 2005), the World Tourism Organisation (WTO) has identified pro-poor tourism as the emerging theme. Tourism has greater pro-poor potential than other industries. The development partners were urged to recognise tourism as an important instrument for tackling poverty.

The UN Specialised Agency for Tourism advocated the Sustainable Tourism-Eliminating Poverty (ST-EP) theme, and launched a programme during the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) in 2004, which aims to encourage sustainable tourism as an instrument for alleviating poverty. The Sustainable Tourism Program supports the partner countries, including poverty reduction objectives in tourism strategies and action programmes as well as ensuring that tourism negotiation in the World Trade Organisation framework contributes to sustainable development.

› Benin, Bhutan, Costa Rica

Analysis and strategy statements on this thematic area were elaborated in the first draft of the Annual Plan 2005-2006, as result of consultations of stakeholders in a series of workshops held in Thimphu, Bhutan, November 2005

All three PSSC partner countries dispose of natural, social and cultural resources that are valuable assets for tourism. While tourism is a major source of foreign currency and may contribute to income generation, its benefits are often poorly distributed while communities that are object of tourism may be confronted with serious side effects. These may include, among others: habitat destruction and other forms of pressure on natural resources; social disruption; prostitution; child abuse; and cultural erosion.

Local communities and tourism organisations often lack the knowledge and information of how to reduce the negative effects and enhance the sustainability of tourism operations, thus contributing to local income generation.

Each of the three countries has its own approach to develop the tourism sector and has gained experience with the mitigation of side effects.

  • In Bhutan, tourism is targeted towards high-end arrivals due to lack of facilities and the avoidance of mass tourism. However, in order to derive maximum benefit from tourism, a master plan has been developed and liberalisation of tourism pricing is under review with product diversification to increase the arrival of tourists in the country.
  • Costa Rica has a well-developed private sector that has taken various steps towards corporate responsibility. Recently the Ministry of Tourism began to promote a new product which is community-based rural tourism.
  • In Benin, tourism is gaining importance and interventions by public and private actors are required to develop the sector in a sustainable way.

Immediate PSSC Objective 1

Contribute to a more sustainable tourism sector in Benin, Bhutan and Costa Rica: increasing benefits to rural communities; mitigating negative side-effects in the field of culture erosion and deterioration of natural resources; and promoting a stronger pro-poor and sustainability orientation of sector policies and incentives.

› Expected results

  • A series of successful innovative projects implemented at micro-level in Benin and Bhutan.
  • Second-tier initiatives started in Benin and Bhutan; and further strengthened in Costa Rica.
  • Public and / or private incentive instruments and certification procedures developing (Benin, Bhutan) or being implemented on a wider scale (Costa Rica).
  • Dialogue started between private stakeholders and public sector in Benin and Bhutan to improve sustainable tourism policies; verifiable outcomes of this dialogue in Costa Rica (improved public sector-wide policy on sustainable tourism).