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News Article

Sustainable Tourism - Eliminating Poverty


Report looks at 10 years of ST-EP

The United Nations has designated 2017 the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development. But one programme aimed at using sustainable tourism to fight poverty has been going for over a decade now. The ST-EP (Sustainable Tourism - Eliminating Poverty) programme of the UNWTO brought together UN agencies, governments, donor agencies, NGOs and other stakeholders to unite in a concerted effort to use tourism in actively combating poverty throughout the world. Since its launch in 2002, the ST-EP Initiative has built up a portfolio of some 120 sustainable tourism projects in Africa, Latin America, Asia, Europe and the Middle East. A new report looks at the work of the ST-EP Initiative over the past ten years. In his introduction, Taleb Rifai, the UNWTO Secretary-General, says:

By disseminating the lessons learned, we hope to continue advancing our joint challenge of further enhancing the local benefits of tourism and ensuring that the sector can make a significant contribution to the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.

ST-EP aims to use tourism as a tool to combat poverty through seven mechanisms:

1/ Employment of locals in tourism enterprises

2/ Supply of goods and services to tourism enterprises by locals or by enterprises employing the locals

3/ Direct sales of goods and services to visitors by locals

4/ Establishment and running of tourism enterprises by locals

5/ Tax or levy on tourism income or profits with proceeds benefiting the community

6/ Voluntary giving or support by tourism enterprises and tourists

7/ Investment in infrastructure stimulated by tourism also benefiting the host community

Among case studies introduced in the report is a project setting up a zip line and canopy walkway in the Dong Hua Sao National Protected Area of Lao PDR. The report says that this has given new income generating and employment opportunities to local people to supplement the local coffee industry. In Tanzania, a ST-EP project promoted cultural tourism enterprises, and increased the number of visitors to such enterprises from 35,000 in 2007 to 70,000 in 2013. In Kenya, training was given to beach operators to improve their interactions with tourists, and the operators have now made agreements with seven hotels to sell their products inside the hotels.

For further information, see the ST-EP homepage, or download the report Making tourism a tool to fight poverty: ten years of the ST-EP Initiative (PDF file).

Article details

  • Author(s)
  • David Simpson
  • Date
  • 27 February 2017
  • Subject(s)
  • Tourism