Can Tourism Alleviate Global Poverty?
Wouldn’t it be great if something as simple and pleasurable as international travel could help end something as grinding and enduring as global poverty? After all, the industry is booming, growing at least 4 per cent a year since the 1960s (with a brief slowdown in 2009), according to the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO).
In 2016, over 1.3 billion international tourists spent an estimated US$1.4 trillion. That’s the equivalent of Australia’s gross domestic product, dispersed around the world.
The UN has even declared 2017 the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, heralding the role of international travel in reducing poverty. But how much global tourism money really makes its way to poor countries?