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Overseas Development Institute (ODI)

Assessing how tourism revenues reach the poor

Briefing Paper 21

Caroline Ashley and Jonathan Mitchell

Overseas Development Institute (ODI)

June 2007

SARPN acknowledges ODI as a source of this document:
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Findings from the application of innovative diagnostic tools offer new ways to understand and boost revenues from tourism for the poor

Tourism, like any other productive activity, has the potential to improve the livelihoods of poor people. To realise this potential requires an understanding of the volume of tourism benefits that reach the poor and ways to enhance the access of the poor to the tourism value chain. This understanding has, however, been difficult to gain from much previous analysis:

  • Conventional tourist data and policy analysis focused on macro-variables (tourist arrivals, foreign exchange receipts and investments), with little on measuring benefits to the poor.
  • As a reaction to this, much pro-poor tourism analysis adopted a micro-level approach – focusing on the livelihood impacts on poor people of specific niche tourism enterprises. A limited geographical scale, descriptive nature and niche focus meant these microstudies failed to generate recommendations for boosting pro-poor tourism benefits in most mainstream tourist destinations.
By adapting existing diagnostic tools and applying them in new contexts to map revenue streams and policy frameworks, a handful of development practitioners are starting to close this information gap. Using value chain analysis, they aim to map the tourism economy, its revenue streams, and beneficiaries. They can use this to address a range of questions for developing country policy makers seeking to improve the pro-poor impact of tourism.

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