Sustainable Tourism: Driving Force Behind Job Creation, Economic Development and Growth

By March 3, 2020 Recent, Tourism

As recent figures illustrate, tourism is a significant engine to create jobs and to drive economic growth and development.

According to statistics from the World Travel and Tourism Council, 2015 was directly supported by the tourism industry, which accounted for more than 107 million workers (3,6% of total employment, representing 3% of global GDP) and 284 million jobs directly and indirectly, equivalent to 1 out of 11 jobs worldwide. In 2026, these numbers will rise to 136 and 370 million jobs, one in nine jobs worldwide respectively.

The most rapids are projected to be among the fastest growing tourism and travel destinations within G20 countries, China, India, Indonesia, Mexico and South Africa. Among the non-G20 economies, the fastest economic growth is expected to occur in Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar, Tanzania, Vietnam and Zambia.

Such figures show the important contribution of tourism to employment and GDP. In addition, there is a need to ensure sustainable, socially responsible growth and development in this sector and to generate decent job opportunities.

Contributing to poverty reduction

Tourism plays an important role in the creation of jobs for women, young people, refugees, rural communities and indigenous people, in particular, and has various links with other countries. As a result, tourism can lead to poverty reduction and socio-economic development promotion as well as decent work. Nevertheless, if tourism is unregulated, wasteful or socially irresponsible and failed to value local cultures, it can have a negative impact on the communities, their heritage and their environment which exacerbates inequalities.

Four key steps

The International Labour Organization (ILO) supports the promotion of more sustainable and socially responsible tourism, as well as decent work in the sector by:

  • Supporting and fostering an integrated approach to local procurement by improving industry linkages to relevant industries (e.g. agriculture, handicraft, transport, infrastructure, construction) throughout its supply chain.
  • Consolidated programs to encourage employment, including in rural areas, through social inclusion, regional integration, and the expansion of local revenues, to facilitate social and economic growth and poverty reduction.
  • Taking into account that the level of skills, career, commitment, loyalty and soft skills of employees are crucial to productivity and improving the work environment for enhancing the reputation and quality of service of the sector.
  • Strengthening structures for social interaction and collective bargaining, which can improve work conditions, opportunities for employment and job security, and make it easier for businesses to better respond to labor market needs and demands.

A number of Sustainable Development Goals have recognized the ability of the tourism industry to contribute to economic and social development. Goal 8 (Promoting balanced and sustainable economic development, jobs and decent work for all) includes an objective (8.9) on tourism: ‘By the year 2030, to develop and implement policies to encourage sustainable tourism which will build employment and promote local culture and produce.’

In 2010 the Tourism Ministers ‘ meeting arose as a consequence of the significant growth of the tourism industry in terms of creating jobs and contributing to GDP in the last decades, seeking to provide G20 tourism ministers with an opportunity to include turism on the global agenda and address the sector’s opportunities and challenges.


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