South Africa’s Minister of Tourism, Marthinus van Schalkwyk, has been invited to lead a new United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) commission on tourism and development. The minister was invited during a meeting of the UNWTO Executive Council in Belgrade, Serbia, on May 29. Members of the working group include France, Germany, Kenya, Jamaica, Egypt, Mexico, Republic of Korea, Mauritania and Belgium.
The executive council considered a proposal by South Africa on ways and means to leverage the significant official development assistance (ODA) resources available globally towards tourism development.
"I believe it will be possible to unlock meaningful new financial resources to further our work in the tourism sector by dramatically scaling up our share of official development assistance,” he said. “Last year, total ODA globally was $130 billion. Of this, $90 billion was bilateral ODA and $40 billion multilateral ODA. The tourism sector received only $124 million of the $130 000 million ODA disbursed globally, i.e. 0, 09% of total ODA. For a sector that is responsible for 9% of global gross domestic product (GDP), 30% of total world exports in services and one in every 11 jobs worldwide, that seems hardly enough,” Van Schalkwyk continued.
During the discussion, Van Schalkwyk identified four priorities for the UNWTO working group:
- Identifying the reasons why ODA allocation to tourism is relatively low, given tourism’s potential as green growth, economic and social development driver
- Identifying the priorities that the development community might find attractive in terms of sustainable tourism development
- Developing proposals for an awareness-raising and advocacy strategy aimed at building its case with donor countries, development banks and United Nations agencies
- Identifying options for the design of, and institutional home for, a matchmaking mechanism to link bilateral donor support to ODA-eligible tourism projects
He recommended that the ODA could be directed towards:
- building good governance and sustainability in tourism;
- promoting investment in the tourism economy;
- fostering the poverty reduction impact of tourism; and
- encouraging human resources development in tourism.
"As a sector, we have a major task ahead of us to convince the OECD Development Assistance Committee, the World Bank, regional development banks, developed-country donors and other United Nations agencies of our sector’s important contribution to poverty eradication, the green economy and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals,” concluded the minister.