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Tourism and SDG 1 – No poverty

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735 million people live in extreme poverty. This means that 10% of the worlds population are struggling to fulfill their most basic needs. This includes clean water and food, health and education.

Combating poverty is one of the greatest global challenges of today, and it is Sustainable Development Goal #1.

Here is how tourism can make a difference. 

Tourism cannot fight poverty alone. But it’s one of the largest and fastest growing economic sectors in the world. Tourism is well positioned to promote economic growth and development at all levels, and to generate income through creating jobs.

A relatively unique thing about tourism is the ability to create value in remote, inhospitable areas. In 30 of the world’s 40 poorest countries, tourism accounts for between 60-90 % of the gross domestic product (GDP). That is a lot. Tourism can also help spread value creation within a country. Some popular destinations in the outskirts of Norway are experiencing a large influx of travelers from home and abroad. In many areas, tourism helps to keep the ghost of eviction at bay. And it also helps more people to be proud of what they have to offer.

The same goes for more comparable parts of the world. 

Tourism can also be linked to national strategies for poverty reduction and entrepreneurship, because of the low skills requirements and that employees are often recruited locally. It is very important that we make sure that the money from those who travel, end up locally and not to all kinds of intermediaries. This way we can contribute to a larger share of plots and properties ending up in local hands. Rights and access to land, ownership and microfinance can also provide opportunities for the local tourism industry to develop. And it creates more opportunities for self-driven income.

When tourists buy from local businesses, the income goes straight into the local value chains. And in turn tourism contributes to the poorest being able to take part in value creation. We see that neglected groups, such as young people and women, are more often included because of tourism.

But we have to make sure the money ends up in the visited destination. The leakage effect describes how the money from travelers leak out of the local economies. What remains can be as little as 5% in the typical mass tourism destinations. Resorts and cruise ships owned by foreigners. Middle men. Local ownership is important. 

Although there is a risk that adaptation to affluent tourists will contribute to pushing the local population out of their areas, locals will still have much left over from the income generated by 1.5 billion tourists. Income can give people the opportunity to not only eat, but also to obtain food that is better for their health. This puts less pressure on already crowded health services and cattle conflicts with humans and animals. And also the fight against poaching and exploitative volunteering.

Income from tourism can be invested in community-related projects, This can be helping to develop and increase health services, clean water and sanitation, family and support for other work. 

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