OECD calls for tourism to be more sustainable


South Africa has to undertake tough reforms and make hard spending decisions for its unemployed youth to stand any chance to prosper in the job market. - OECD

PARIS - The OECD on Tuesday called on government to rethink their tourism policies to make growth in the key sector more "ecologically sustainable and socially inclusive."

Tourism was one of the largest and fastest growing sectors in the world economy, and its potential remained very strong, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development said in a statement.

In the 35 OECD countries, tourism contributed on average 4.1 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), 5.9 percent of employment and 21.3 percent of service exports, the OECD calculated.

Addressing a two-day high-level meeting of ministers, government officials and industry representatives in Paris, OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurria said tourism was "a bright spot in a still sluggish global economy but the sector faces considerable challenges."

In certain heavily-visited areas, for example, tourism had faced a backlash in public opinion due to its impact on the local population, culture and environment, Gurria said. 

"Rethinking the tourism model involves improving the tourist's experience, better managing the impacts of tourism, and encouraging positive spillover effects on the wider economy," the OECD statement said. 

"Tourism policy should ensure that it contributes to economic growth that is shared broadly across society and improves the well-being of citizens." 

According to the OECD, tourism could also serve as a tool to help protect natural areas, and had the potential to make "a major contribution" to the 2030 UN sustainable development agenda "by working to achieve more resource-efficient consumption and production patterns."