You would think that promoting tourism was an obvious strategy for achieving peace and economic well-being in impoverished or war-torn countries, right? Well, yes, but there are significant challenges in reaching the full potential of tourism in developing countries. To understand them, let’s take a look at a special report the United States Institute of Peace published on tourism in the developing world. The report was published in 2009 and summarises the findings of three in-depth studies about the impact of tourism on India, Nigeria and Kenya.
Tourism Benefits National Economy but Requires a Preliminary Investment
What do these studies show? Well, the positive news is that tourism is an enormous part of the world’s economic activity and it certainly does create jobs in developing countries. It also leads to a more diverse economy and helps overcome cultural differences. However, promoting and enhancing tourism in these three countries, turned out to be a challenge. While their national resources are already stretched, they need to invest in both infrastructure and training personnel if they wish to attract tourists. Moreover, regulation needs to be robust and factors which push against tourism, such as corruption and crime, must be reduced.
The First Step – Peace
The report claims that tourism can and will promote peace, but at the same time it also points out that tourism will not flourish unless peace is already present. To break free from this vicious cycle the governments of these countries must take the first steps. They should work in collaboration with local communities and the stakeholders from abroad, in order to ensure a stable environment in which tourists can feel safe.
While it is vital for the leaders of the countries to be proactive in their effort to benefit their nation through tourism, it is not a mission they can undertake alone. International tourism operators have a role to play too, by taking initiative, seeing the big picture and bringing their wealth, knowledge and technology into these countries.