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Advancing tourism’s contribution to poverty reduction and development

The UNWTO states that tourism can be an effective catalyst for poverty reduction because it offers host communities unlimited opportunities to sell goods and services, diversify and supplement their sources of income, provide employment opportunities for local people, especially women, promotes gender equality, and others.

Team Exatraveller was in contact with Carlos Diez de la Lastra, CEO of Les Roches wherein Carlos explored the use of practical learning in Tourism and hospitality, and shares how it equips students with the professional and interpersonal skills that help alleviate poverty in developing countries, particularly in rural areas.

Below mentioned are a few important points narrated by Carlos:

Tourism is, of course, a major contributor to economic growth, with millions of people supporting their families and improving their livelihoods through working in the sector. The sector has notably been leading the way in providing employment and other opportunities for women and youth.

In 2019, prior to the pandemic, tourism accounted for 10.4% of the Gross Domestic Product or GDP globally, with one job in ten linked to tourism. In the Asia-Pacific region, the sector contributed 9.8% of GDP, and in India tourism accounted for 6.9% of the country’s total economy.

But then came the pandemic, which resulted in tourism and hospitality taking a major hit. With countries locked down and international travel halted in 2020, the contribution of tourism to GDP was halved globally to 5.5% and some 61.6 million jobs were lost.

Hotels, restaurants, tour operators, and small businesses are now hiring again and the WTTC is forecasting that travel and tourism in India could surpass pre-pandemic levels by the end of this year due to 20.7% year-on-year growth.

As many workers have been reskilled or simply changed to other sectors, the tourism rebound is facing a huge shortage of workers at all levels adding to the skill gap already faced previously by the sector in high-growth areas such as India. For example, the Accor hotel group has as of today (visible on their website 21 568 open positions throughout the world). In consequence, the demand for all types of training is very high today as well as career opportunities.

On the road to recovery

In the coming years, tourism is expected to continue to play a vital role in helping to lift communities out of poverty.

The WTTC states: “the future looks bright”.  It predicts India’s travel and tourism sector will grow at an average of 7.8% annually over the next decade and create more than 2.4 million new jobs every year. India, it says, will account for one in five all-new tourism jobs globally.

As tourism recovers, how then can we increase the sector’s contribution to improving livelihoods and alleviating poverty?

One obvious way is through education. Skills training will be crucial for preparing young people for the rebounding tourism sector as they enter the workforce and seek to provide a better way of life for themselves, their families, and their communities.

A UN report stated earlier this year that the development of domestic and rural tourism is helping local economies “boost job creation and protect natural resources and cultural heritage, while at the same time empowering women, youth and indigenous peoples.” (Women had “experienced a sharper decline in employment and labour participation” due to the crisis).

Hotel capacity is expected to increase in the coming years and, as tourism recovers, employers in tourism and hospitality will be looking to fill millions of jobs, from entry to senior positions.

To help bridge that talent gap, the UN’s World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has joined forces with leading hospitality schools such as Glion Institute of Higher Education, Les Roches Global Hospitality business school, and culinary school Ecole Ducasse, to create an online university and offer online courses in English, Spanish and Arabic. The programs have already reached more than 20,000 students from 100 countries within just 18 months.

In addition, Sommet Education recently entered into a strategic alliance with the Indian School of Hospitality (ISH) to expand globally-renowned hospitality education across the country supporting the development of Ecole Ducasse and Les Roches in India.

With the tourism sector increasingly focusing on promoting sustainability and supporting local communities in the years ahead, the winners will be those who equip themselves now with the skills needed to succeed.


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