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Poverty Alleviation

Total tourism share for LDCs and SIDS:


Tourism export 5.63%

Zoom in to view all Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and Small Island Developing States (SIDS).

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Poverty Alleviation

The share of international tourist expenditure and employment in LDCs and SIDS is small, but growing.

Tourism expenditure from international visitors in developing countries can stimulate economic activity, infrastructure development and employment. Aligning with other global initiatives, such as UNWTO’s ST-EP program, two indicators have been selected to measure tourism’s contribution to development. Apart from contributing to SDG 1 “End poverty in all its forms everywhere”, tourism development can also have a positive impact on SDG 8 “Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all”.

The focus here is on tourism in Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and Small Island Developing States (SIDS). Data for the two indicators come from the WTTC, who collect economic data for 78 out of the 99 LDC and SIDS countries listed by the World Bank.

Key facts

  • In 2016, LDCs and SIDS earned a combined US$79 billion from international travel and tourism in real prices. This export value has increased by 4.6% compared with the previous year, 2015.
  • The lowest proportion of LDCs and SIDS tourism export earnings as a share of global international tourism expenditure was in 2000, when it was as low as 4.66%. The highest share was observed in 2012 and 2013, with 5.72% in each year. In 2016, the share was 5.63%.
  • Overall, there is a slow increase towards a higher share of expenditure going to less developed countries.
  • It is important to note that Singapore is part of the SIDS list, and it accounts for 22.6% of international tourism expenditure across all LDC/SIDS countries.
  • Tourism direct employment in LDCs and SIDS increased from 3.2 million jobs in 1995 to 7.8 million jobs in 2016. This is a small reduction (by 1%) compared with the previous year.
  • The share of total direct employment in tourism in SIDS and LDCs increased substantially from 4.5% of global employment to 7.2% in 2016.