PDF: The Viability and Sustainability of International Tourism in Developing Countries

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Diaz, D. (2001). The Viability and Sustainability of International Tourism in Developing Countries. Report to the Symposium on Tourism Services, 22-23 February 2001. World Trade Organization, Geneva.

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The tourism sector is probably the only service sector that provides concrete and quantified trading opportunities for all nations, regardless of their level of development. However, it is also a sector where there is clearly an uneven distribution of benefits, which is threatening the social, economic and environmental sustainability of tourism in some developing countries. For many developing countries tourism is one of fundamental pillars of their development process because it is one of the dominant activities in the economy, while for others, particularly by islands and some small economies, it is the only source of foreign currency and employment, and therefore constitutes the platform for their economic development.

Against this background, part I presents an overview of the most important trends and features of international tourism and the most influential factors affecting the performance, efficiency and sustainability of tourism transactions in developing countries. Part II presents an overview and examples of the main issues affecting the viability of tourism in developing countries, including (a) the impact of the leakage effect which is adversely affecting them in taking advantage of commercial opportunities; and (b) the anti-competitive practices affecting tourism viability and performance in different segments of the tourism sector, as well as in other sectors closely linked to travel and tourism. Part III presents some reflections about the GATS 2000 negotiations as a possible turning point for making effective the increasing participation of developing countries in international tourism flows in a sustainable perspective. In this connection, some comments are provided on the impact of the proposed Annex on Tourism on the economic, social and environmental sustainability of tourism.

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