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Introductory Remarks - Sustainable Tourism Training Course TZ

by Jean Brennan last modified Jan 10, 2013 11:47 AM

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Introductory Remarks Delivered by USAID/EGAT Administrator Jacqueline Schafer

Since 2000, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has initiated or completed over 100 projects in 72 countries that utilize tourism as a platform for achieving broad agency development objectives. USAID’s tourism activities have helped to promote economic growth and poverty reduction, competitiveness, environmental conservation, gender mainstreaming, education, and good governance. As an example, tourism is viewed by the Agency’s missions and their host countries as a labor-intensive export industry due to its foreign exchange-earning capacity — hence its value as an economic growth tool. 17 impala

Tourism is also a valuable tool for environmental conservation. Because of its income-generating potential and other benefits, tourism encourages governments and communities to value and protect the resource base on which tourism often depends. Beautiful, well-run national parks, clean beaches and thriving coral reefs, and healthy and abundant wildlife populations draw tourists from around the world.


In addition, in line with the Millennium Development Goals, USAID is increasingly incorporating tourism into its development activities to:

  • eradicate poverty through enterprise development and sharing of profits within communities;
  • address education through the training and capacity-building that accompany tourism development;
  • promote gender equality by involving women, providing them with access to credit and training; and supporting women-owned businesses;
  • combat HIV/AIDS through education within the tourism industry;
  • ensure environmental sustainability and the vitality of the resource base on which much tourism depends; and
  • develop global partnerships by collaborating with developing countries and other donor agencies in development activities.

In the past, USAID’s tourism projects have seldom been stand-alone projects, but rather have been a component of larger projects — usually focused on economic development or on environmental conservation. Now USAID is increasingly looking toward holistic tourism development activities, from broad policy work down to on-the-ground product development, as larger cross-sectoral projects complete in themselves.

Looking at tourism as a system, which will be discussed in this training, allows us to see where there are gaps, identify entry points for USAID to be most helpful and effective, and understand more clearly how the various components of tourism interact. For example, the tourism industry might need to consider housing for employees if the surrounding community cannot supply the workforce needed and people must travel to work from other communities. A government might need to revise legislation (as Panama just recently did!) to authorize certain conservation finance options so concessions and entry fees can fund park operations. Farmers in a tourism community might need help with crop diversification to provide local fruits and vegetables to tourist lodging and restaurants (this is an issue in northern Mozambique, where foods have to be expensively imported and communities do not benefit).

Approaching tourism as a system also provides the opportunity for USAID to work cross-sectorally, approaching tourism development as an inter-disciplinary issue, allowing us to pool scarce resources, to be more effective, and to not miss key elements (such as starting up eco-lodges as a community alternative livelihood without proper business feasibility analysis), which you will hear more about in Modules 4, 5 and 6 — the economic growth and environment sessions.

Some outstanding examples of USAID Tourism activity:

  • Jamaica’s EAST (Environmental Audits for Sustainable Tourism) Project focusing on clean production, environmental systems management and competitiveness in hotels;
  • Bulgaria’s National and Regional Ecotourism Strategy Project for economic growth and community poverty reduction, making it worthwhile for communities to support national parks;
  • Egypt’s Red Sea Project for biodiversity conservation and economic growth; and
  • Namibia’s LIFE (Living in a Finite Environment) Project, which provides a wonderful example of tourism inserted into a larger project to help achieve the larger goals of sustainable natural resources management and the devolution of rights over wildlife to communities.

USAID is well-positioned to provide countries with:

  • tourism-related expertise
  • training and capacity-building, and
  • financing for eligible countries through generation of local currency through debt swap programs or development credit authority.

USAID can also help countries provide a foundation for tourism development by helping them:

  • Establish and implement policies that conserve and enhance natural resources as a priority base for tourism attractions and growth that improves the livelihoods of all citizens.
  • Form cross-sectoral and inter-ministry working groups so several ministries (such as commerce, transportation, environment, education) are involved and support tourism development.
  • Improve a country’s “Doing Business Score” (see the World Bank’s Doing Business 2005 report). Governments can identify, after reviewing their country’s “Doing Business” indicators, where they lag behind and will know what to reform to encourage any business (including tourism) to develop.
  • Work toward providing community access to resources, and to guarantee resource rights such as in land tenure, forest management, and coastal fishing rights, with preference for employment and other income-enhancing opportunities related to tourism.
  • Coordinate donor activities to enhance synergies and cooperation. Many countries convene donor councils.
  • Commit national budget resources to partnerships, conservation, and investment support through infrastructure development.

Host country governments can work with USAID:

  • In a bi-lateral, government-to-government capacity to let the Mission and Regional Office know their needs and priorities, and their interest in tourism development;
  • Eligible countries can work with the Tropical Forest Conservation Act and the Enterprise for the Americas Initiative to relieve certain official debt owed the U.S. Government while at the same time generating funds in local currency to support tropical forest conservation and other environmental conservation activities; and
  • Governments can assist with forming alliances and partnerships with the private sector, other donors, and NGO’s to propose Global Development Alliance projects for funding.

  • In response to increased Mission interest in tourism and requests for assistance, the EGAT Bureau is working with a tourism development coalition and the GDA Secretariat to assemble a global tourism GDA that will serve as a global mechanism for Missions to access the best in sustainable tourism expertise as well as private funding in support of tourism development activities. We are currently processing a proposal received through the GDA Annual Program Statement so stay tuned for more on that — Roberta Hilbruner will have the latest information!

EGAT sponsors the Sustainable Tourism Working Group, of which Roberta is the Chair. This group is overseeing a project that has:

  • Built a database of case studies;
  • Prepared a paper outlining the importance of tourism for development and how it can help USAID meet State/USAID and Millennium Development goals; and
  • Developed tools (including a website) and training (such as this workshop) for Missions to use in designing and managing tourism projects.

I am delighted that you are here to participate in this EGAT-sponsored training. It has been designed to provide an opportunity to exchange ideas, examine what is needed for effective tourism development (such as a framework for engaging in tourism activities and good indicators to measure success), and identify a path forward for furthering tourism development through USAID efforts.



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