International Trade and Tourism - A Global Agenda for Sustainable Development (own-initiative opinion)

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EESC section opinion: International Trade and Tourism - A Global Agenda for Sustainable Development (own-initiative opinion)

Composition of the Study Group

Administrator in charge Gunilla Fevre-Burdy, Assistant Nadja Kačičnik

International tourism accounts for 30% of global trade in services. In macro-economic terms, expenditure by international visitors is recorded as exports for the destination country and as imports for the visitor’s country of residence. For around one-third of developing countries, tourism is their principal export. The sector is expected to continue expanding significantly to reach 1.8 billion international tourists in 2030. Tourism has a key role to play in maximising the contribution of trade in services to development, job creation, and the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Tourism is of high importance and can make a strong contribution to the economies of Least Developed Countries (LDCs) where the sector is a major exporter. In these countries, it represents 7% of total exports of goods and services, a figure that stands at 10% for non-oil LDC exporters. Tourism and trade are included in SDG 8, aiming at building inclusive and sustainable economic growth and creating jobs, thus contributing to the structural transformation of LDCs. Tourism has an important impact on job creation as it offers a direct and accessible entry point into the workforce, particularly for women and youth in both urban and rural communities. It is estimated that one out of every eleven jobs worldwide is directly or indirectly linked to tourism. The sector also offers a wide diversity of growing investment opportunities for innovative SMEs and micro businesses.

Sustainable tourism has also been identified as one of the key areas of work in the 10 Year Framework of Programmes on Sustainable Consumption and Production. This demonstrates that at the global policy level, tourism can make a significant contribution to the three dimensions of sustainable development (economic, environmental and social), has close linkages to other sectors, and the potential to create decent jobs as well as generate trade opportunities.