Tuesday, October 18, 2011

UN Deputy encourages tourism as method to end poverty

In a recent speech, UN Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro urged governments and financial institutions to support tourism as a method that can “stimulate economies and overcome poverty”.

Dr. Migiro’s October 10th address to the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) in South Korea pointed out how tourism has seen impressive growth over the last several decades and now represents 5% of the world’s GDP, saying also “this is creating jobs for local communities and diversifying national economies.” She then poised the question, “how can this phenomenal growth be harnessed in support of the Millennium Development Goals?”

The Deputy Secretary-General focused three ways in which targeted efforts can have a greater impact for developing nations.
  • In countries where poverty and hunger are most extreme, tourism can continue improving basic infrastructure and services, such as transportation, communications, energy, and water supply.
  • The expansion of tourism will continue to generate opportunities for employment, and the creation of tourism-focused small businesses focusing on goods and services.
  • Tourism can empower women by employment as managers, and create opportunities for women-run businesses, Dr. Migiro added that she has seen “first-hand how community-oriented tourism can promote women’s social and economic mobility and unlock their entrepreneurship.”

The Deputy Secretary-General also proposed several specific action items for governments, investors, and donors to take; saying governments should develop a pro-poor tourism strategy that focuses on services and jobs, they should integrate gender participation in all decision-making, government should increase community participation in developing tourism products and in the development and management of tourism sites, and they should integrate environmental and cultural protection with tourism development.

Despite the obvious positive effects, the Deputy Secretary-General was quick to point out that tourism had not been made a “priority area for either funding or engagement” by the world’s governments or donors, saying “I urge you to advocate on behalf of tourism's potential to create jobs, attract foreign exchange, investment and know-how and stimulate local economies.”

Raised in a village on the side of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, Dr. Migiro said she had seen first-hand the positive impacts tourism can have on developing economies.

"Over the years I have seen how tourism has helped to change the face of this majestic landscape,” she commented, speaking of the “great power of tourism”.

Dr. Migiro closed by emphasizing that sustainable development is perhaps the highest prioarity for her boss, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

“Saving our planet, lifting the poor from poverty, and advancing economic growth for all are one and the same cause - From the soil of sustainable development we can grow peace, security, human rights and a world of opportunity for all.”

-Joshua Rogers