Tourism and the Poor: Analysing and Interpreting Tourism Statistics from a Poverty Perspective.


This paper is one of a series on Pro-Poor Tourism (PPT) - tourism that generates increased net benefits for poor people. Other papers in the series describe how tourism can be adapted to increase opportunities for the poor; report on specific examples where tourism has been used to create pro-poor growth; and explore the challenges of harnessing tourism to benefit poor people. This paper highlights the size of tourism and its potential impact on developing countries, especially those most dependent on it, and its distribution among developing countries.

The paper is intended to assist development professionals in assessing the scale and relevance of tourism to economic development in developing countries. How should national and international data on tourism be interpreted from a development perspective? What are the caveats and myths that need to be taken into account, and what further information is needed? There is a wealth of data on tourism, but little is accessible to non-tourism specialists, and most focuses on growth trends in the industry, rather than its contribution to development in poor countries. The aim of this paper is to help to address a number of key questions of relevance to development professionals.

Section 1 provides a brief overview of the key figures for tourism in developing countries before discussing the definitions and data sources used in this paper and the main caveats related to the data provided. Section 2 discusses the advantages and disadvantages of tourism as an engine of pro-poor growth in the developing world. Sections 3 to 6 identify 'important' destinations based on the size of international arrivals, look at the effect on destinations where tourism is a main contributor to economic development, and examine the role of tourism in the 'poorest' countries. The aim is to illustrate how significant tourism is to many poor countries and how the data may be used to address different policy questions. The conclusion summarises the main points and key issues.


PPT Working Paper No. 16, 29 pp.

Tourism and the Poor: Analysing and Interpreting Tourism Statistics from a Poverty Perspective.

Published 1 January 2004