Tourism brings lots of advantages and disadvantages to a nation. It can create job opportunities and bring wealth to people that would otherwise be poor. On the other end of the spectrum, it can cause ecological degradation, social dislocation, and loss of cultural heritage. As a matter of fact, and as claimed by the UNESCO, the sector should be sustainable for its good to outweigh its harm. Defined, sustainable tourism is that which betters the lives of the people of the host country, while satisfying the visitors, at the same time.
It is evident that sustainable tourism is one of the greatest tools for alleviating poverty. There are many ways in which sustainable tourism can help to fight poverty. One of the ways is job creation. With a stable tourism sector, businesses such as hotels tend to employ more people. The salaries and wages these employees earn enable them to meet their needs, including food, shelter, and school fees for their children. But what makes tourism a well-suited industry for poverty alleviation?
Well, first of all, the sector is large, and it grows very fast. This means that it has all the potential needed to sustain the development of a country. Through employment opportunities and foreign exchange earnings, it becomes completely possible to fight poverty through tourism. Also, as tourist destinations diversify, the sector can lead to sustainable growth. The fact that tourism accounts for at least 25 percent of GDP in developing countries is a clear sign that the sector plays a key role in allevating poverty in such countries.
Sure, developing countries, especially in Africa, are poor and still have a long way to go for them to catch up with developed nations of the world. However, these countries tend to be special in their own way; they have features that most developed countries don’t have. Rich cultural heritage, warm climate, abundant biodiversity, and inspiring landscapes are just but a few of the features that make these nations special. These features are what tourists look for. And they (tourists) are willing to pay dearly for them. What is even amazing is the fact that these features are mostly found in rural parts of these developing nations. When tourist destinations are extended to these poorer parts of the world, poverty in those areas can be somewhat alleviated.