INTRODUCTION:As a fastest growing sector in the world, the tourism industry has important impacts on the development of economic, social cultural and environmental aspects of a country. According to World Tourism Organization (WTO), tourism accounts for up to 10% of global gross domestic product making it one of the world??™s largest industries. For one third of developing countries, tourism is already a major source of income and foreign exchange. Also in more than 50 of world??™s poorest countries, tourism ranks among top three of largest economic sector. Its progress is more pronounced in developing countries than in developed countries. To completely understand the importance of tourism in economic development of a country a few statistics about tourism and tourists are discussed below: Tourism plays a major role in the economy of poor and developing countries across the globe. It is a major source of foreign exchange in 46 of 49 least developed countries.
It is the only service industry that shows a positive flow of trade from first world countries to developing countries. Tourism in Asia has expanded exponentially in the past ten years than in any other region of the world primarily due to improved air linkages and transportation networks, simplified visa procedures, more economical travelling and hotel stay packages and new emerging industrial markets like China, Russia etc. Pakistan being a developing country possesses immense potential in terms of tourism due to its diversified geography, history and culture. With a wide range of tourists attractions/resorts including mountains, meadows, rivers, lakes, coastal areas and beaches, caves, mines, forts, mosques and multicultural live-hood it has bright prospects for becoming one of the most popular Asian tourist??™s destination. However, the annual tourist arrival to Pakistan is just limited to less than half a million.
According to United Nations millennium development goals, poverty and extreme hunger should be eliminated by 2015. Poverty is a multi-faceted concept and it is not only characterized by insufficient income levels but also lack of basic necessities in an area. In this regard, tourism industry development can play a major role as the tourist??™s arrival in an area not only generates economic benefits but also essential and basic services. The fact that tourism industry encompasses a considerable number of different travel related activities including travel agencies, tour operators, hospitality enterprises, souvenir, and arts and crafts business and tourist guides etc. It tends to generate large number of jobs particularly for unskilled and semi-skilled people.
The contribution of tourism to income and employment generation and in turn reducing poverty is mainly because of cross-linkages between tourism and other major sectors of economy. It highlights the evolution of agriculture, fishing, arts and skilled product industry, infrastructure development sector and construction services.BENEFITS OF TOURISM DEVELOPMENT TO POOR (PRO-POOR TOURISM)It is an approach to tourism development and management which ensures that poor people secure economic benefits from tourism in a sustainable and fair manner. It enhances the linkages between the tourism business and poor people so that tourism contribution to poverty is increased.
Tourism is considered one of the most current and viable strategies for economic development and empowerment of poor. To fully understand the strategies for poverty reduction through tourism development one must be able to identify how this industry help the poor community. 1.
EMPLOYMENT OPPURTUNITIES: Tourism sector helps in creating employment opportunities for the community by creating several direct and indirect jobs in the market. 2. INCREASED INFRASTRUCTURAL FACILITIES: Tourism industry development leads to infrastructural gains and increased construction of roads, water supplies, tourist??™s attractions, education system, health care facilities etc.
These facilities highly upgrade the standards of living of the local poor community. 3. MARKETS AND TRADE VALUES: Increase in tourist??™s arrival in an area brings about positive change by development of local markets and increased trade.
Local products made by poor communities may achieve higher returns due to tourism development. 4. ECONOMIC BENEFITS BY TOURISM SERVICES DEPARTMENT: An increased influx of tourists stimulates local community to develop better services and supply of goods. Local tourist guides and establishment of tour operators by the poor communities of that area economically benefits the poor. 5. TRANSPORTATION: Besides development in domestic and international air travel other modes of travel also experience progress. This includes an increased number of taxis, boats, buses, rails and other vehicles for the easy access to the destination place. Therefore increasing indirect employment rates and also providing poor local community affordable means of transport.
6. AGRICULTURE DEVELOPMENT: The development of tourism industry brings along more requirement of fresh food and high quality fruits and vegetables. Therefore engaging local farmers in standardized and sufficient supply of high grade food. 7. FISHING: Local fishermen can benefit a lot from the development of tourism business in coastal areas. Supply of local varieties of fish and crustaceans is extremely favored by tourists due to its freshness and prices rather than the imported frozen ones. 8.
FURNITURE MANUFACTURERS: Local laborers and industries involved in furniture making gain economic benefits due to increased demand of furniture and its repair in tourist??™s resorts and hotels.STRATEGIES FOR POVERTY REDUCTION THROUGH TOURISM DEVELOPMENT:World Tourism Organization (WTO) has identified certain issues for development of tourism to reduce poverty which needs to be addressed before strategy development and implementation is tackled. These include: i. Comprehension of nature and causes of poverty in specified area and how engagement in tourism activities will help and support the live-hood options of poor people.
ii. Adaptation of an integrated approach towards planning and management at local destination level. iii. To introduce simple processes of quality control and standard assurance in area for both tourism and local development. iv.
Creative and realistic on ground marketing and development strategies for the specified area. v. Educating and creating consumer awareness to provide tourists better information. Major strategies for the poverty reduction through tourism development are discussed in two major parts i.e.
First part involves the basic strategy requirement for tourism development while the second part explains the approaches used for poverty reduction through tourism development.GOVERNMENT POLICIES AND INVESTMENT 1. POLICY MAKING AND PLANNING PROCESS:Planning process on the part of governments should be decided after having comprehensive dialogue with other major departments. Priority should be given to integration of tourism policies with other policies of the government so as to develop tourism in favor of economic development. At national levels the government should ensure the implementation of such policies to encourage domestic tourism and direct foreign investment. Emphasis should be placed on development of effective and responsive tourism to encourage and support pro-poor tourism.
Consequently, tourism administration should be developed so as to remove obstacles for the local people and small enterprises. Poverty reduction through tourism should become a part of national strategy so as to have overall positive impacts on economy. Finally, for the conviction of policy makers and government, poverty reduction targets should be convincingly measured, reported and demonstrated. 2. FINANCIAL INVESTMENT:An important aspect in tourism development is financial investment and if properly utilized can facilitate in reducing poverty.
Financial investments should be made in the areas of: * Infrastructure development which is greatest hurdles in both tourism development and poverty reduction. Provision of transportation networks, energy supplies, clean water, telecommunication, health care and educational facilities come hand in hand with tourism development and access to such basic necessities will upgrade the living standards of poor. * Financial assistance for micro, small and medium sized tourism enterprises (MSME??™s). * Investment in identifying the pro-poor tourism development zones and up-gradation of community based projects. * Investment in marketing for both local and international tourists. * Investment in human resource development and training of local workers.APPROACHES TOWARDS STRATEGIES 3.
EMPLOYMENT OF POOR IN TOURISM INDUSTRY:One of the most direct methods for poverty reduction is providing employment opportunities to the local people. However employment of local people should be based upon their already existing skills. Nonetheless a few issues should be carefully addressed while creating employment opportunities for the benefit poor: * Fair pay conditions, part time job provision. * Creating maximum number of jobs whether direct or indirect. * Tourist seasonality issues and providing alternate source of income.
4. SUPPLY OF GOODS AND SERVICES TO TOURISM INDUSTRY BY POOR COMMUNITIES:Another significant way to reduce poverty is development of local supply chain for the tourism enterprise. These local supplies may include food, handicrafts, souvenirs, and services include hoteliers, guides, porters and helpers. However a matter of concern in this strategy is: * Educating the local community to provide quality and reliability in services and supply.
* Incorporation of maximum supplies from the local market. 5. DIRECT SALES OF GOODS AND SERVICES TO TOURISTSThis sector development is the most direct way in which financial gains are directly handed over to the local poor communities.
These include local handicrafts shops; stall selling food, informal accommodation. For completely giving economic benefits to poor people through this strategy following issues should be kept in mind: * Providing order and quality control checks on goods and supplies. * Quality and standard reassurance to tourists as potential purchasers and service users.
6. ESTABLISHMENT OF TOURISM ENTERPRISES:The development of tourism enterprises benefits both tourism industry and poverty challenges in longer terms. By setup of such micro, small or medium enterprises control and autonomy can be handed over to the local poor communities. The issues regarding this strategy include: * Access to capital * Acquisition of skills, confidence and motivation. * Knowledge of concerning legislation.
* Access and availability to tourist markets. 7. TAX or LEVYThe tax or levy collected through tourism income and profits should proceed for the benefits of poverty reduction programs in local destination areas. * Taxes and charges should be dealt with vigilance so as not to dampen investment and income flows. 8. VOLUNTARY PARTICIPATION BY TOURISTS:This strategy includes the voluntary financial aid provided in the form of general charities and programs such as specific support of a project in destination areas. * Extra caution in promoting aid activities so as not to discourage tourists. SUGGESTIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS:The government seems to be least concerned about the tourism development as a direct cut in budget allocations of more than 35% was witnessed in 2010-2011.
However, with the meager budget of 125 million, the tourism department should invest and plan strategies wisely to pull back the drowning tourism industry for the reduction of poverty. For this purpose a few suggestions and recommendations are as below: 1. The formation of joint committees for tourism development and poverty reduction at national and regional levels. Tourism department should perceive the concept of ST-EP (Sustainable Tourism Development for Poverty Reduction) and in this regard request the World Tourism Organization (WTO) guidance, aid and technical assistance to develop community based tourism projects. 2. Concerned department should undertake analytical studies on socio-economic impact of tourism.
Also demonstrate through case studies aimed at poverty reduction the economic benefits to local and poor communities. 3. With such immense potential for travel and tourism, the tourism department should place primary emphasis on international tourism as local tourism largely leads to redistribution of national income while international tourism provides foreign exchange. In this regard, focus should be placed on development of softer and safer image of Pakistan and providing specific promotional packages. 4. The development of a public relations program and media activities to enhance the role of tourism in economic development and poverty reduction. In this regard, the concerned department should establish a high quality website and advertisements displayed on print and electronic media.
5. Encouraging the local resources and services in tourism related operations will not only share the burden of tourism department but will also help in empowering poor people. 6. Promoting local arts and crafts as well as local entertainment to increase income levels and enhance preservation of culture for the host community. 7. Educating and improving the quality, capacity and skills of local people through proper training.
8. Finally, monitoring and assessing the impact of promoting tourism and its development on poverty reduction and present summaries to the governments and policy makers for effective planning and investment in tourism industry for poverty reduction.