UNWTO welcomes the recent decision of the China National Tourism Administration (CNTA) and the State Council Leading Group Office of Poverty Alleviation and Development of China to promote rural tourism as an effective means to fight poverty.
In a recent meeting with Chinese tourism authorities, UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai, welcomed China’s continued recognition of tourism as an effective development tool as well as its special focus on rural tourism. “Tourism is well positioned to contribute to rural development as it is a labour-intensive sector providing a wide range of job and entrepreneurship opportunities in areas where other economic activities are often limited or in decay. Furthermore, tourism provides these opportunities locally, helping to curb rural migration”, said Mr. Rifai.
Data from Chinese tourism authorities show that between 2011 and 2014, more than 10 million people, or 10% of the poverty-stricken population, were lifted out of poverty through tourism. In view of this impact, Chinese authorities are launching, within China’s 13th Five-Year Plan Period, a nationwide tourism development plan to lift 17% of the country’s impoverished population out of poverty by 2020.
CNTA and the State Council Leading Group Office of Poverty Alleviation and Development of China expect that by 2020, three million rural tourism businesses will be receiving two billion annual visitors, lifting two million of China’s rural population out of poverty every year. The total income generated is estimated to reach over one trillion RMB Yuan benefiting 50 million rural residents.
Despite its wide-reaching socio-economic impacts, and having been identified by half of the world´s Least Developed Countries (LDCs) as a priority instrument for poverty reduction, tourism still receives limited attention as a tool for development. Against this backdrop, UNWTO recently called for higher financing for tourism in development in tourism on the occasion of the Third International Conference on Financing for Development:
“2015 is the year for action. As we move forward to adopt a new sustainable development agenda, we have a unique opportunity to raise the level of assistance in tourism to further harness its vast potential for stimulating green growth and inclusive development worldwide, particularly for the countries most in need”, urged Mr. Rifai.
Maximizing tourism’s contribution to poverty reduction is one of UNWTO priorities and main areas of work. In addition, the UNWTO Sustainable Tourism – Eliminating Poverty (ST-EP) Initiative supports tourism activities that specifically deliver development and create jobs for people living on less than a dollar a day.