If world traveling alone made someone an expert
on tourism, you have invited the right person to the forum this
morning. Other than NASA astronauts, I have probably logged
more miles than anyone in this government.
I. Tourism as a Tool For Economic Growth and
Over forty years ago, USAID was established to
address the issues of economic growth, poverty reduction, health
and humanitarian assistance. The challenges remain massive and
stubborn. Whether because of weak governance and poor policies,
human rights abuses and social inequities, armed conflict and
natural disasters, catastrophic health and environmental calamities,
one-sixth of the world's population mostly women and
children suffer from hunger and malnutrition.
Tourism is a particularly powerful tool for achieving our goals
because it has become one of the largest if not the largest
single industries in the world. It has grown rapidly
and almost continuously over the last 20 years, and the World
Tourism Organization reports it to be one of the world's most
important sources of employment and of Gross Domestic Product.
In 2001, some 207 million workers astonishingly, one
in every twelve globally worked in the tourism sector,
and the combined GDP totaled US $3.5 billion, or about 11 percent,
of the world's total. Tourism receipts are of critical importance
to many countries' balances of payments and general economic
Experience indicates that sustainable tourism does not simply
happen. It requires an overall strategy and detailed planning,
with a host of supporting mechanisms including public-private
partnerships, appropriate legislative and institutional reforms,
training and public education, infrastructure and technology,
finance and credit systems that reach down to the poor, and
continued monitoring and evaluation.
Since the year 2000, USAID has undertaken or begun more than
ninety projects, in 72 countries, that either specifically address
the tourism sector or else utilize tourism as a component for
achieving other objectives. A number of recent projects directly
address strengthening local economies through a cluster-based
competitiveness approach, reflecting the need for supportive
and integrative mechanisms to weave tourism into the larger
The cluster-based competitiveness approach is widely used, with
total initiatives amounting to almost $58 million in 26 countries.
The concept is that product quality, international competitiveness
and hence sustainability increase as linkages and synergies
in a local economy become stronger and more dynamic. Several
clusters are normally chosen within a country, with tourism
increasingly selected as an area of focus.
USAID began its first large-scale cluster-based competitiveness
approach in Lebanon in 1998, focusing on agriculture and tourism.
The Sri Lanka Competitiveness Initiative is a broad-based program
working with several industry clusters including ceramics, coconut
fiber, jewelry and tourism. Ecotourism was introduced as a new
product to broaden the tourism market, and a self- funding,
private sector-led, Tourism Promotion Authority was created.
Other examples of competitiveness initiatives include Mongolia
(with a portfolio of clusters relating to cashmere and tourism),
the Dominican Republic (horticulture, traditional tourism and
ecotourism), Croatia (wood products and tourism) and Bulgaria
USAID projects that have embraced tourism as a component for
supporting economic growth range from a bed and breakfast network
in Armenia to a tourism marketing web site for Mongolia, to
a new National Tourism Strategy for Jordan that was adopted
officially just last month.
Tourism has also been instrumental in advancing USAID's strategic
objectives of gender equity and promoting women's role in the
development process. For example, in Tanzania, a group of village
women formed the Naisho Women's Group (Naisho means "increase"
or "multiply" in Maasai) to work toward preserving
their culture and alleviating gender inequality and poverty.
In many locations such as Tanzana, Mexico and Botswana, tourism
revenue has been used to build women's centers and to promote
artisan activities and micro-credit projects.
Micro-funding is extremely important for many women attempting
to establish their own enterprises, since traditional forms
of funding nay not be accessible. Operating through more than
500 implementing partners in 2003, USAID served a record 5.6
million poor clients via loans for micro-enterprises and other
purposes valued at $1.3 billion. Some 94 percent of all loans
were paid on time, 65 percent of the clients were women, and
55 percent of the loans were held by very poor clients. More
than 3.1 million micro-entrepreneurs, some of them in the tourism
sector, received business development services from USAID-assisted
institutions, resulting in improved market access, productivity
Tourism initiatives typically contain strong training and education
components to assist local populations with acquiring new job
skills and adapting to changing local economies. Necessary skills
such as hospitality, marketing, public negotiations, and scientifically-based
conservation techniques are cross-sectoral themes in tourism
training. At least twenty current USAID tourism projects specifically
integrate training and capacity building into the project model.
Additional examples of enhanced training opportunities come
from Ghana, Tanzania and Jordan. Ghana's Tourism Capacity Development
Initiative improved the capacity, quality and performance of
the tourism industry through training in marketing and product
development, human resources development (including technical
training for tour guides, and institutional capacity development.
Train-the-Trainer conferences are held in Tanzania for institutional
capacity building among such local conservation organizations
as Roots and Shoots (a Jane Goodall project) and Malihai. In
Jordan a grant to the Jordan Tourism Board facilitated a series
of workshops on crisis management for a tourism industry adversely
impacted by conflict in the Middle East.
II. Natural Resource Management and Local Governance
Tourism development is being effectively and increasingly
utilized not only for achieving economic growth and poverty
reduction goals, but also as a valuable tool for other USAID
objectives relating to sustainable natural resource management,
biodiversity conservation and local governance.
While supporting economic growth and competitiveness is a critical
need, it is also imperative to help to protect and enhance the
natural resources that most of the world's poor look to
for their livelihoods. Many of USAID's tourism activities
are capitalizing on increasing interest among travelers in eco-
and geotourism to promote projects that support more widely
applicable, community based, natural resources management and
biodiversity protection objectives.
Because many of the world's poor depend directly on the
environment through agriculture, forestry or fisheries
for their livelihoods, much of USAID's work is targeted
to assuring the sustainable use of natural resources in four
key areas: agriculture, biodiversity, forestry and water. Sustainable
tourism is often used as a mechanism for furthering this work
by both achieving improved management and increasing revenue
Since the mid-1980s, several USAID Missions have initiated community
based natural resources management programs. The intent has
been rural empowerment, local governance and wildlife conservation.
These initiatives not only strengthen local governance through
community managed operations but also further biodiversity protection.
Ecotourism can provide positive contributions towards such protection
through heightened awareness of biological resources and the
generation of alternative income-producing opportunities. Namibia,
Kenya, Mozambique, and Jordan have been the beneficiaries of
some of these programs.
In 1990, USAID and The Nature Conservancy began collaborating
on the Parks in Peril Program in an urgent effort to safeguard
the Latin America and Caribbean region's most imperiled
natural ecosystems, communities, and species. The Program builds
a sustainable local capacity to conserve and manage biodiversity
in threatened national parks and reserves of global biological
significance. Parks in Peril ensures on-site protection for
an array of major habitats, natural communities, and species
in some of the world's most biologically rich and threatened
The program builds local capacity by helping to consolidate
the tools, infrastructure, staff, institutional and technical
capacity, local support, and financing necessary to conserve
and manage these protected areas. Since 1990, Parks in Peril
has worked successfully in 17 countries, promoting sustainable
resource protection in 45 conservation areas on about 40 million
hectares. One example of a Parks in Peril success is Panama's
Darien Biosphere Reserve, where community forest management
practices have improved while generating income through nature-based
President Bush has charged my Agency with implementing The Congo
Basin Forest Partnership (CBFP). We are proud to be a part of
an Administration that has shown the greatest level of engagement
in Africa in US history. The goal of the Partnership is to promote
economic development, alleviate poverty, combat illegal logging,
enforce anti-poaching laws, improve local governance, and conserve
natural resources through support for a network of national
parks and protected areas, well-managed forestry concessions,
and creation of economic opportunities for communities who depend
upon the conservation of the forest and wildlife resources of
the Congo Basin.
U.S. partnership actions focus on eleven key Congo Basin forest
landscapes in Cameroon, Central African Republic, Democratic
Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, and Republic
of the Congo, which are ecologically sensitive, biologically
diverse areas and wildlife corridors considered the most vulnerable
to deforestation and other threats. The U.S. Government will
invest up to $53 million in the Congo Basin Forest Partnership
through 2005. Secretary Powell called this a "signature"
initiative when he introduced it in Johannesburg in 2002. He
sought there to "reaffirm the principle that sound economic
management, investment in people, and responsible stewardship
of our environment are crucial for development."
Other recent initiatives, such as conservation of the Mountain
Gorilla Habitat Conservation Project in Africa, hold promise
for future nature-based tourism activities. The mountain gorilla
populations in Rwanda, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Uganda
have increased by 10 percent during the past ten years (from
320 to approximately 355 individuals). USAID and its partners
are promoting regional conservation approaches with an emphasis
on trans-boundary coordination, anti-poaching, community participation,
economic alternatives, research, and habitat conservation.
III. Concluding Remarks: Some Cautions and Advice
I would like to conclude with some reflections
on what the Agency has learned in this domain:
USAID is learning from its experiences in the field that tourism
is complex, multi-faceted, and can be woven into many different
Agency objectives and strategies, from economic growth to poverty
reduction to global health to natural resources protection and
management. Done wisely and well, it has the capacity to reduce
poverty, stimulate locally-retained economic growth and improve
But tourism, planned badly, can be extremely destructive to
its surrounding environment. With an integrated strategy, comprehensive
planning and participation by all levels of community, tourism
is capable of accomplishing many worthwhile and needed objectives.
However, still better ways need to be developed to ensure that
tourism is, in fact, "sustainable".
The sector must act as a catalyst for other development, and
not an end in itself. Over-dependence on any single industry
may be equally as risky to a local economy as any other mono-activity,
especially in today's world.
Stronger tools of analysis are needed to better
assess the probability of a project's success prior to implementation,
in order to make best use of available funding. We must also
ensure that adequate baseline information and post-project monitoring
and evaluation provide for a sufficiently competent analysis
of how successful a project has been in achieving its objectives.
We need to establish strong indicators to measure the effects
of tourism activities. This is particularly relevant to cross-cutting
Tourism must be based on real market demands, not simply the
supply of possible products associated with threatened natural
or cultural resources. Markets must be engaged from the beginning
and the enabling policy and institutional environment established
for joint ventures.
USAID will continue to encourage and support public-private
partnerships whenever and wherever feasible. Not only do they
increase the level of funding available, but they also increase
the level of expertise that can be brought to a project.
Finally, donors must collaborate better in the field, on the
ground where tourism projects are being implemented. By pooling
resources and efforts, we can accomplish much greater results.
In closing, I would like to say how very pleased I am to see
the large and varied turnout among government agencies, international
donor groups, NGO's, and academic institutions. Policy forums
such as this one are critical to the continued success of tourism
activities by fostering communication and information exchange
on program successes and failures, helping to enhance tourism
activities wherever they are implemented, and giving future
efforts that much greater a chance of success. Thank you.