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LDC Export Diversification, Employment Generation and the “Green Economy”:
What roles for tourism linkages?

“Pro-poor” tourism is arguably one of the best green options for addressing LDC poverty, employment and economic diversification initiatives.

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Although often neglected as a serious policy option — and consequently most of its potential still remains untapped — tourism is the leading export for at least 11 LDCs, and the 2nd or 3rd largest export for another 11 or more.  It is also a major source of new employment, especially for women, youth and the rural poor in general.  While difficult to measure accurately, tourism's pro-poor impacts are directly related to the achieved level of inter- and intra-sectoral linkages.

Taking export diversification, employment generation and the “green economy” in turn, the working paper analyzes feasible LDC alternatives, reaching the conclusion (within the limits of data availability) that — in contrast with the current overemphasis on agriculture and manufacturing — green tourism is demonstrably one of the areas of greatest current comparative advantage and development potential for the majority of LDCs, via its extensive upstream and downstream linkages/multiplier effects, employment-generating and poverty alleviation capacities, opportunities for export “test marketing” of new products, sustainability, and largely untapped export opportunities. 

An economy wide, primarily private-sector approach is an essential element for maximizing tourism benefits — including its multiple linkages with agriculture and manufacturing — together with a significant coordinating governmental role to minimize negative externalities.  Unfortunately, there is no automatic guarantee that expanding tourism will significantly increase poverty alleviation or local employment generation:  the necessary mechanisms must be explicitly included in tourism planning and implementation.


No: ERSD-2012-24


Dale Honeck, WTO

Manuscript date: December 2012

Key Words:

LDCs, LDC Graduation, Export Diversification, Development, Comparative Advantage, Employment Generation, Green Economy, Green Tourism, Pro-poor Tourism, Tourism Linkages, Cluster Analysis, Value Chain Analysis, Poverty Alleviation, MDGs, Gender Issues, FDI, GATS, Africa, Istanbul Programme of Action (IPoA), Rio+20.

JEL classification numbers:

F13, F18, H54, H77, I38, J16, J21, J24, K39, L52, L83, O14, O19, O24, P45, Q26, Q54, Q56

Disclaimer  back to top

This is a working paper, and hence it represents research in progress. This paper represents the opinions of the author, and is the product of professional research. It is not meant to represent the position or opinions of the WTO or its Members, nor the official position of any staff members. Any errors are the fault of the author. Copies of working papers can be requested from the divisional secretariat by writing to: Economic Research and Statistics Division, World Trade Organization, Rue de Lausanne 154, CH 1211 Geneva 21, Switzerland. Please request papers by number and title.

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