Tourism for Community & Economic Development
My work & favorite resources
|Tourism is a major driver of economic growth and
sustainable development. Tourists that come in to see even just
one site or or to experience just one activity in a region spend
money for accommodation, food, local items, and transportation
support (taxis, gas, parking, mass transit), thereby affecting a
range of businesses.
A tourist site does not have to be huge; it can be a small historic site, a farm or ranch that represents a unique or desirable local practice, a unique local food, unique textile or ceramic production, distinctive music or other arts, a park that is a beautiful place to walk, bicycle ride or take pictures, and on and on. It can be in an economically-rich area or an area that is low on the economic development scale. It may attract tourists from across the region, across the country - or from around the world.
Meeting in Mexico in 2012, the G20 underscored the role of tourism in the economy and committed to work on advancing travel facilitation as a means to stimulate demand and spending, and thus promote job creation. Sustainable tourism was further included in the Outcome Document of the Rio+20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development in 2012.1, 2
But tourism also has other benefits: people who travel, and who encounter travelers, learn about different cultures and regions. That knowledge can lead to greater understanding about and respect for cultural and regional differences. Travelers take that knowledge - through their stories and photos and locally-produced items - back to their home communities, educating and inspiring others.
And there's also the personal growth and education travelers receive - that's one of the biggest attractions for travelers, one that those who want to cater to such often forget. Not every traveler is a luxury traveler and is from an upper economic class; many travelers are budget travelers, either because of their economic limits or because of their desire for a particular kind of experience. All too often, these travelers are forgotten in discussions about the development of tourism.
The benefits of tourism are many, for both those traveling and those living in or near destinations, but developing tourism in a region, ANY region, is easier said than done. A series of very well-run workshops to encourage local businesses to cater to bicycle tourists in small towns throughout Oregon might still fail to inspire most participants. Conversations with village leaders in Afghanistan to answer their questions about eco tourism may confuse the issue even further. Those are two scenarios I've experienced firsthand in my community development work (and they were remarkably similar experiences!). Misunderstandings and unrealistic expectations are two common factors that contribute to tourism-for-development initiatives failing. Getting people in any community to embrace what's necessary to make successful tourism happen in their region is a challenge - but it is possible.
This section of my site is about my work and my favorite resources regarding tourism for community & economic development, as well as resources related to tourism as a way to develop individuals personally, particularly for women. Some resources are focused on travelers (which can be helpful to those wishing to cater to such travelers), and some are focused on those that want to attract travelers. Most of my own resources relate to women travelers and budget travelers.
Resources I've developed that relate to tourism development include:
1 G20 recognizes travel tourism as driver of economic growth
2 Tourism can contribute three pillars of sustainability
Basic Fund-Raising for Small NGOs serving the developing world
Questions to Ask for a Major Report from the Developing World
Building Staff Capacities to Communicate and to Present
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