Pro-Poor Tourism

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Sustainability, development, and universal design emerged as topics for study and action in the context of the Designing for the 21st Century III conference in Rio last December. How is the knowledge produced by Pro-Poor Tourism to be integrated into that discussion?

Key Principles and Strategies for Pro-Poor Tourism

Some Underlying Principles for Pro-Poor Tourism

  • Pro-poor strategies need to be complemented by the development of wider tourism infrastructure. A balanced approach is critical – if competitive products, transport systems or marketing do not exist, the industry will decline and so will any pro-poor strategy;

  • Pro-poor principles apply to any tourism segment, though specific strategies will vary between, for example, mass tourism and wildlife tourism;

  • Focus on expanding benefits, not just minimising costs to the poor;

  • Draw on lessons from other sectors (such as small enterprise, good governance, and poverty analysis) and apply these to tourism;

  • Involve businesses in development initiatives and be commercially realistic;

  • Do not expect all the poor to benefit equally, particularly the poorest 20 per cent. Some will lose;

  • Learn by doing – the effectiveness of pro-poor strategies is not proven, but we won't know what can be done to reduce poverty through tourism until more concerted efforts are made.
  • Combining national and local strategies

    A range of strategies are needed to promote pro-poor tourism, at the local destination, national/policy level, and the international level.

    A destination focus is ideal for practical measures to maximise benefits for the poor within a specific area (e.g. coastal zone, district/region, island, city, valley/mountain). Pro-active initiatives can bring government, communities, NGOs and business together to stimulate economic linkages, local participation and partnerships. However, practical action usually needs to be accompanied by a supportive policy framework.

    National/policy-level interventions may be needed on issues ranging from planning and policy objectives, licensing and registration systems, tenure laws, tourism training, business incentives/regulation and infrastructural development. Development of pro-poor tourism requires a strong planning framework and government commitment. If this exists, small changes in rules can have a significant effect on implementation and impacts.

    Source: Deloitte & Touche, IIED and ODI Report to DFID, 1999

    How is PPT different from other forms of 'alternative' tourism?

    PPT and the sustainable tourism agenda

    The principles of sustainable tourism (ST) have been widely adopted by the tourism industry. There is considerable overlap, and many ST initiatives include constructive pro-poor elements. However:

  • ST focuses mainly on mainstream destinations, which are mainly in the North while PPT focuses on the South, where the poor are.

  • In ST, environmental concerns dominate. Social or local benefits are usually one of several elements of sustainability. Poverty is the core focus of PPT.

  • Where ST does include social concerns, practical guidance is often weak.
  • Certifying energy efficiency is easier than certifying community relations.
  • PPT experience has generated a number of practical lessons, which could be incorporated within ST and are particularly appropriate to countries where poverty is the pressing concern.
  • Eco-tourism, conservation with tourism, and community based tourism

    PPT also overlaps with both ecotourism and community-based tourism (CBT), but it is not synonymous with either.

  • Ecotourism initiatives may provide benefits to people, but they are mainly concerned with the environment. Conservation approaches emphasise the need for broadly distributed local benefits (often cash) as incentives for conservation, or they may support activities that provide an alternative to unsustainable actions. In contrast, PPT aims to deliver net benefits to the poor as a goal in itself. Environmental concerns are just one part of the picture.
  • Community-based tourism initiatives aim to increase local people's involvement in tourism. These are one useful component of PPT. But PPT involves more than a community focus - it requires mechanisms to unlock opportunities for the poor at all levels and scales of operation.
  • Source:

    Working papers on Pro-Poor Tourism

    Summary of Results

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