Enjoy Your stay, Make a Difference: How Inclusive Business is Transforming Tourism

In 2012, 1 billion tourists travelled across borders, compared to 25 million in 1950. Tourism is one of the fastest growing industries worldwide, and it’s growing most quickly in emerging and developing countries. Currently, UNWTO calculates that tourism is responsible for 9% of global GDP, for over 1 in 11 jobs and for USD 1.3 trillion in global exports annually.

A new study by GIZ and Endeva shows how tourism can create mutual benefits for companies and people in poverty.

The Beauty of Local Encounters

Aside from the statistics, vacations are the best time of the year! Take a moment to remember the best parts of your last trip. An important part of any trip is the time we spend interacting with the locals and learning how they live, comparing and contrasting our lives.

However, while tourists are enjoying a new and exciting experience, they may not realize that many of their hosts are poor. In developing and emerging countries some even live on less than USD 1 per day. They usually participate in the tourism value chain informally and at the margins, as porters, cleaning ladies, farmers and so on. Because employment and entrepreneurship opportunities are frequently irregular and associated with significant risks and little upward potential, the tourism sector is often unattractive to locals.

Enter Inclusive Business Strategies

Inclusive business in tourism can be defined as tourism that increases business linkages between people from low-income communities and tourism-industry actors for long-lasting mutual benefit. Tourism companies benefit from improved product quality and innovation. Their reputation increases not only within the local community, but also among guests, government authorities and across the broader public. Sourcing locally can lower costs of transportation. Communities and low-income people, on the other hand, benefit from opportunities for income from employment and entrepreneurship. Acquiring new skills and improved knowledge enables them, in turn, to access better jobs. Moreover, when tourism is soundly integrated into the local economy and culture it also provides incentives and funds for the conservation of natural, cultural and historical resources.

There are plenty of opportunities: in transportation, construction of lodges and hotels, as guides, service staff, as producers of traditional handicraft, supplying local food, or as active participants in natural conservation.

The recently published “Guide to Inclusive Business in Tourism” by Endeva and GIZ charters the course, mapping out opportunities and demonstrating why working together makes sense for both companies and communities.

Pioneers Are Leading The Way

Pioneers have already found success: nine case studies that accompany the guide highlight innovative business models which were implemented by companies in Egypt, Indonesia, Jordan, Namibia and South Africa.

Semiramis Intercontinental Cairo is one example in which the vision of mutual benefit became reality. Since the mid-1990s the hotel has pursued an initiative to reduce its paper waste by giving it to a local non-governmental organisation that turns it into recycled products. These products are then bought by the hotel to be used as corporate gifts. This collaboration provides underprivileged women and independent artisans with full-time jobs as well as a steady income. At the same time, it provides the hotel with a high quality local alternative to imported corporate gifts that is inspired by Egyptian cultural heritage and has a unique story to tell. It’s the ideal present to hand out throughout the year to VIPs, long-term guests and families with children.

Join the Journey!

We invite companies from across the tourism sector, including hotels, restaurants, tour operators, souvenir shops and artisans, transport companies and many others to join us on this journey.

Endeva offers support in the identification of inclusive business opportunities and development of business model. Contact Christina Tewes-Gradl for more information!

The GIZ Responsible and Inclusive Business Hubs offer concrete partnering opportunities in Southeast Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa and Northern Africa. Write directly to the regional hub heads Michael Janinhoff in Cairo, Jonas Naguib in Jakarta, and Rebecca Szrama in Pretoria!


Let’s walk towards destination mutual benefit together!

Download a “Guide to Inclusive Business in Tourism”  


This blog was authored by Christian Pirzer and Christina Tewes-Gradl, and originally posted on Business Fights Poverty.

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