Contact Newsletter


| Responsible Tourism


The Transforming Tourism Initiative and SDG 8

Frans de Man | Retour Fountation - Alba Sud

Document with a strategy proposal for the international incidence of the 8th Sustainable Development Goal, developed by the NGO platform Transforming Tourism, from the agreements reached in the Berlin Meeting the past March 5th, 2019.

1. SDGs, From goals to targets to indicators

This year it is exactly 20 years ago that tourism was officially included in the UN sustainability agenda, in the UNCSD-7 meeting in 1999 in New York, as part of the Rio-process leading to the SDGs that will be dominating the sustainable development debate until 2030. One of the lessons learned in the process was that monitoring progress requires “a solid framework of indicators and statistical data to monitor progress, inform policy and ensure accountability of all stakeholders.” Therefor the 17 SDGs have been elaborated into 169 targets for each of which (by 2020) one to three indicators should have been established and confirmed. In this paper we want to explore how tourism and development NGOs can interact with this part of the SDG process most effectively.

2. SDG 8 and tourism

The SDGs are indivisible and should be implemented in an integrated manner, in other words all of them should be taken into account in the development of tourism. Nevertheless, tourism is also specifically addressed in SDGs 8, 12, 14. In this paper we will focus on SDG8: “Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all”. It addresses tourism directly in target 8.9: “By 2030, devise and implement policies to promote sustainable tourism that creates jobs and promotes local culture and products” which has two indicators, 8.9.1: “Tourism direct GDP as a proportion of total GDP and in growth rate” and 8.9.2: Proportion of jobs in sustainable tourism industries out of total tourism jobs”.

SDG 8 combines the targets of economic growth and of decent work into one goal, as if they somehow are inherently linked. Where there (arguably) is a connection between economic growth and the creation of jobs, there is no automatic link between growth and the decency of jobs [1]. Integrating both targets into one SDG seems less a logical and more a discursive argument, suggesting growth will lead to decent work. This discursive character is illustrated by the SDG8 logo. The full negotiated and official text first deals with “growth”, prioritizing it over “full and productive employment” and only then the concept of “decent work” is introduced. The logo however, the highly visible representation and first (and often only) thing people see, foregrounds decent work by situating it prior to economic growth.

In this paper we will deal with four issues in SDG 8 that, in our opinion, from the perspective of NGOs committed to sustainable development and responsible tourism, should be addressed to establish justifiable indicators:

- Decent work
- Growth and development
- Liberalization
- Differentiation between North and South

Decent work

The issue of decent work has long been recognized as a priority by many, on national and international levels and including unions and intragovernmental bodies such as ILO, UNDP, UNEP and UNWTO. Although the importance of the concept itself is unanimously embraced, things become more challenging once the concept is being operationalized and priorities and urgencies being identified. From a tourism worker’s perspective, most NGOs fighting for worker’s rights agree on four developments that raise concern:

- Growing number of types of contracts that do not safeguard worker’s rights, often resulting from the growing phenomenon of sub-contracting.
- Increasing flexibilisation of jobs, resulting in unacceptable workloads and diffused job descriptions and tasks.
- Growing number of health issues
- Failure in addressing gender equality and gender violence

Although ILO and labor unions agree on the relevance of these issues and have brought them to the negotiation tables, there have been hardly any signs of positive developments on work floor level.

Growth and development
Where the challenges for the decent work agenda are quite clear, the growth issue is a more complicated and political issue. The Brundtland report that initiated the Sustainable Development debate had a strong focus on growth, but it also suggested a distinction between growth and development. Most descriptions of sustainable development only mention the first part of Brundtland’s definition: "Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs." It is however the second, often forgotten part of the definition, where limitations and re-distributional challenges to economic growth, crucial to the classical development debate, are addressed:

“It (SD) contains within it two key concepts:
- the concept of needs, in particular the essential needs of the world's poor, to which overriding
priority should be given; and
- the idea of limitations imposed by the state of technology and social organization on the
environment's ability to meet present and future needs."

The Rio 92 conference that followed the report, and its Agenda 21, elaborated on this distinction in article 38.1 where it states that problems of environmental degradation should be addressed in the context of: “efforts to promote sustainable and environmentally sound development in all countries and that the promotion of economic growth in developing countries is essential”. Essentially Agenda21 makes two important distinctions here. The first one is between sustainable and environmentally sound development and the other between developed and developing countries. We will come back to the North-South distinction in one of the following paragraphs. Interesting for the development debate is the suggested difference between sustainable and environmentally sound. Where “environmentally sound” refers the second key concept of Brundtland’s definition “limitation”, “sustainable” would also encompass the first: “the essential needs of the world’s poor”, referencing and including an important social element from the development and justice debate: redistribution of income and reducing economic inequality. Further reference to a distinction between growth and development is found in paragraph 9.7. where the eradication of poverty is linked to sustained economic growth on the condition that this growth “should be coordinated with social and economic development in an integrated manner with a view to avoiding adverse impacts on the latter, taking into full account the legitimate priority needs of developing countries (UNCED 1992, para.9.7)

25 years later, in Agenda 2030 (United Nations General Assembly 2015a) the distinction between growth and development is less obvious. Although in its preamble, the Agenda sets ambitious goals in developmental concepts, it later turns into a much more rigorous advocacy of economic growth. The preamble outlines 5 goals for sustainable development:

- to end poverty and hunger everywhere;
- to combat inequalities within and among countries;
- to build peaceful, just and inclusive societies;
- to protect human rights and promote gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls;
- and to ensure the lasting protection of the planet and its natural resources.

Thus development is defined with one environmental goal and four in the social sphere referencing justice by relating to combatting inequalities, to the re-distributional aspects of development and to the North-South debate.

Not mentioned in the pre-amble, the concept of economic growth is introduced in paragraph 3, initially as a means to “create conditions for sustainable, inclusive and sustained economic growth, shared prosperity and decent work for all’ and from there on gains traction, reducing the 5 social and environmental goals to adjectives, connected seemingly randomly to the economic growth concept, as sustainable, sustained ii and/or inclusive [2]. Only inclusive seems to relate to the social justice and re-distributional aspects of development while Prosperity, another concept crucial for its distributional effects on growth, is never mentioned again. Eventually economic growth evolves from being a means to a full-fledged goal with a legitimacy of itself in SDG 8.

In the responsible tourism debate the relation between growth and development has been questioned by NGOs since the 1980s, when it started, focusing on issues of justice, redistribution, trickle down and North-South relations. In this paragraph we will not elaborate on these debates. We will focus on the issue of tourism and growth, which has been pushed to the forefront recently with the attention for overtourism [3]. Overtourism is not new and has been around since the concepts of Carrying Capacity and LAC found their roots in it decades ago. Where a most of the current debate focuses on mitigating policies, more critical approaches address structural issues such as the exponential growth of tourism, its relentless promotion by powerful interests and the relation between economic growth and tourism in general. A relating issue that should be seriously addressed is the question how growth through tourism is measured and calculated. Although “leakage” effects have always been recognized there is hardly any serious attempt to quantify them and to actually subtract them from tourism incomes before claiming the profits of tourism growth. An acknowledgement of this hiatus by tourism experts was surprisingly exposed when the Travel Foundation asked them if tourism income covered the costs and “they answered with a resounding “no”. All those around the table—academics and representatives from businesses and destinations—accepted that tourism isn’t paying its way” [4]. A complicating factor is that systems to measure tourism, like the UNWTO’s Tourism Satellite Accounting are often not adequate to measure real growth (illustrated by the misleading 1 billion tourist arrivals claim), let alone development. A serious debate on tourism, growth and development can only have meaning after these issues have been addressed.

In the discourse on sustainable development, growth has always been inextricably linked with liberalization. Brundtland, the Earth Summit, Agenda 21, The Future we Want and Agenda 2030 all have endorsed the emerging neoliberal trade agenda and a belief in voluntary self-regulation of business as a means of changing corporate behavior. (UNCED 1992, para.2.7; United Nations 2012, para.58.H and 281; United Nations General Assembly 2015b, para.68 a.o.) In the SDGs the drive for liberalization is explicit in SDG 17.10 but also more or less hidden in Target 8.A: “Increase Aid for Trade support for developing countries, in particular least developed countries, including through the Enhanced Integrated Framework for Trade-Related Technical Assistance to Least Developed Countries”. The goal of this framework (EIF) is: “to enhance the capacity of LDCs to integrate into the multilateral trading system in order to reduce poverty and benefit from increased market access”. Through agencies such as IMF, ITC, UNCTAD, UNDP, WTO and the World Bank it wants to formulate: a “response to needs emanating from on-going trade liberalisation processes and new trade rules, including the DDA” (Doha Development Agenda). In its list of activities it prioritizes “assistance to implement specific WTO and other trade policy commitments”.

In the era that the roots of the sustainable tourism debate were laid, around the UN-CSD-7 (1999) and the International Year of Ecotourism (2002), the debate on liberalization and tourism had a good momentum, addressing the negotiations on GATS and WTO. Research by Equations and Tourism Watch in 1999 (Seifert- Granzin & Jesupatham 1999) showed that the tourism sector is very much affected by liberalisation and that tourism companies play a big role in it. To liberalize trade and services it is paramount that sectors can be defined, delimited and compared and that measurable indicators are in place. This has proven to be very complicated in a complex and undefined sector like tourism, making the weaker stakeholders in tourism vulnerable for (the legal departments of) corporations in negotiation and litigation procedures under the WTO.

UNCTAD therefore warned for the consequences of the GATS agreement: “Developing countries should not open their service sectors too quickly for foreign companies since it does not automatically lead to growth and actually costs money: local businesses are forced out of the market and jobs lost with negative effects on basic social services and culture. (..) More policy is needed to secure local business assets, prevent displacement and minimize negative effects on job creation”. According to the 1999 research the debate should address the implications of liberalization for the:

- Market position of service providers in developing countries in an international competitive environment
- Options for self-determined development
- National sovereignty
- Participation of the local population
- Safeguarding of human rights
- Environmental protection and sustainable resource use.
Differentiated responsibilities of North and South
As mentioned above, Agenda 21, specifically in article 38.1, makes a distinction between development for all countries and growth in developing countries. This distinction (between North and South) had been recognized even before the Rio-process had started, with UN institutions acknowledging the fact that although there is a need for all states to take collective responsibility for the environment, mitigating actions should allow countries of varying levels of development to contribute according to their capacity. This was recognized in the principle of Common but Differentiated Responsibilities (CBDR). Under CBDR, “all states are responsible for addressing global environmental degradation yet not equally responsible.” [5] Although the CBDR found their way into Agenda 2030 they met with strong resistance from developed countries (Ye 2016), who seem to want to replace it with only a commitment to a minimum standard for growth in the South.

The concept is very relevant in (international) tourism since in hardly any other sector there is a bigger distinction in interests and responsibilities between North and South with one mainly being the source market and the other the destination. The history of destinations is fundamentally with Northern destinations mostly staring out serving domestic market while development of southern destinations served Northern tourists and interests. Changes in tourism over the past decade however have affected these responsibilities with tourists from developing countries flocking out to the world and the South developing domestic tourism. The effects on the CBDR of these developments have hardly been addressed.

3. SDGs and sustainable tourism indicators

The coordination of developing appropriate indicators and measures for the SDG targets is delegated to UNSD (UNSTATS) and they have appointed “custodian” agencies for specific targets which should be established by 2020. UNWTO was charged with formulating the indicators for the tourism targets under SDG8, SDG12 and SDG 14.[6] To assess what to expect from the UNWTO we have looked at what has been UNWTO’s position on the challenges addressed above [7].
UNWTO and decent work  [8]
The UNWTO addressed relevant issues of decent work already in the 1980s Manilla declaration studies with UNEP and Global Compact produced some good assessments [9]. Recent documents and statements on the SDGs however, often fail to address decent work, even when SDG 8 is cited [10]. For example, in an article with the title “UNWTO secretary-general puts employment first” Secretary-general Zurab Pololikashvili, does not include decent work in the list of the biggest challenges facing the tourism industry in job creation. Addressing private sector commitment the UNWTO World Committee on Tourism Ethics (UNWTO 2011), focused on human rights, social inclusion and gender equality, but did not mention decent work. In a recent document on tourism and the SDGs just 2 of a total of 144 pages are dedicated to decent work (UNWTO 2018b) and none of the 21 recommendations of the Chengdu Declaration address it. If and when addressing it, the UNWTO seems to reduce decent work to “green jobs within tourism (...) aimed at reducing negative environmental impacts” and commits only to the fight against slavery, human trafficking and forced labor. (UNWTO 2017b; UNWTO 2017a). Not only that, but the Framework Convention on Tourism Ethics, due to the “nature of tourism jobs”, will guarantee job security only “so far as possible” without elaborating what is possible and what not (which obviously is the core of the matter). Furthermore, it seems the UNWTO tries to exempt the tourism industry from respecting universally acknowledged worker’s rights by confining these within “the specific constraints linked in particular to the seasonality of their activity, the global dimension of their industries and the flexibility often required of them by the nature of their work”.
UNWTO, growth and development
In early documents like the 1980 Manilla Declaration the (UN)WTO aims for tourism that contributes to “the establishment of a new international economic order that will help to eliminate the widening economic gap between developed and developing countries.” The Acapulco Document (UNWTO 1982) and the Tourism Bill of Rights (UNWTO 1985) both reinforce the central importance of an ”equitable distribution of wealth and participation”. While addressing equality and (re-)distribution these documents nowhere make references to economic growth nor to free markets. But entering the era of sustainable development the UNWTO takes a more defensive stand when in the 1999 Code of Ethics the only reference to equality is in the context of employment and of the rights of tourists. Equal distribution is of benefits is only addressed for businesses between different countries. Some positive effects of the sustainable tourism discourse are visible in the 2017 Framework (the updated Code of Ethics), that regards tourism as a means towards “contributing to economic development, international understanding, peace, prosperity and universal respect for, and observance of, human rights and freedoms for all” (UNWTO 2017a, p.80) even going as far as acknowledging the challenges: “powerful effects, both positive and negative, on the environment, the economy and the society”. Awareness of the link between growth and development also surfaces when UNWTO describes itself as an organization that “promotes tourism as a driver of economic growth, inclusive development and environmental sustainability” [11]. Nevertheless the Framework plays with and omits concepts and adjectives in the same way as Agenda 2030. From the perspective of discourse, it is interesting to see how in the quote above, the concept of development is linked to inclusive and that of sustainability to environmental, which can be interpreted as a political attempt to steer the reach of the concept of sustainability away from issues of social justice. The mystification continues in article 6, calling upon all stakeholders to: “safeguard the natural environment with a view to achieving sound, continuous and sustainable economic growth”, without clarifying how sound is different from sustainable and continuous from sustained.
UNWTO and liberalisation
Where the UNWTO creates a misty discourse on growth and development, there is no wavering in the assertion that a neoliberal, private-sector driven market model, free from state interference, is the basis of its growth paradigm. In the 1999 Code of Ethics the UNWTO had taken a decidedly neoliberal stance, as evidenced in its unequivocal pro-market preamble: “The world tourism industry as a whole has much to gain by operating in an environment that favours the market economy, private enterprise and free trade...responsible and sustainable tourism are by no means incompatible with the growing liberalization of the conditions governing trade in services”. Things become more worrying when liberalization appears to be framed as a condition-sine-qua-non for the private sector to take responsibility for sustainability: “in exchange for their freedom to invest and trade which should be fully recognized, they should promote local and sustainable consumption and production patterns and involve themselves in local development, avoiding, by the excessive repatriation of their profits or their induced imports, a reduction of their contribution to the economies in which they are established.” (both in the Code of Ethics and in the Framework Convention).
UNWTO and Common but Differentiated responsibilities
Although there is an obvious regional distinction between the roles and responsibilities in tourism of the Global South and the Global North, (markets vs destinations) and a differentiated approach would be logical. However, there is no reference to the CBDR principles in UNWTO policies.

4. UNWTO and Criteria

The rationale of developing tourism indicators for the SDGs is to create a “robust follow-up and review mechanism” in a process in which stakeholders can have a say. It is imperative for NGOs involved in sustainable development and tourism, to challenge the responsible institution, the UNWTO, on its vagueness and lack of commitment to decent work, its blind faith in growth and liberalization and its negligence in recognizing differentiated responsibilities between North and South. But the necessary data on how UNWTO is progressing are hard to find. The website of UNSTATs, dedicated to showing progress in real time, has no data available for the two relevant tourism indicators 8.9.1 and 8.9.2. A more in-depth search on the UNWTO website however produced documents that reveal their attempt to rewrite the SDGs, adapting them to their own agenda. A year ago the UNWTO reported to the IAEG [12]. that in 2020 ”a final and complete SF-MST [The Statistical Framework for Measuring the Sustainability of Tourism] will be submitted for consideration by the United Nations Statistical Commission”. In order to develop this framework, UNWTO proposes to replace indicators 8.9.1 and 8.9.2 with a single indicator "Progress towards sustainable tourism" with three sub-measures “that provide a good (conceptually precise and feasible) indication of the 3 dimensions of sustainable tourism (economic, social and environmental)” (UNWTO 2018a). In the motivation UNWTO’s first argument addresses the context: “While Target 8.9 has many parts, within the context of Goal 8 it is understood that its main focus is about "promoting sustainable tourism”. This however is an incorrect representation of the focus of the “parent” SDG 8, which is about growth and decent work. Target 8.9 should elaborate the contribution of (sustainable) tourism to these two specific goals. The UNWTO then argues that: “for actual attainment of the target, indicators that track "outcomes" are more valuable than indicators that track "intentions" (i.e. policies)”. Addressing intentions, policies and commitments however is crucial for the SDGs in order to be able to hold stakeholders accountable for outcomes, precisely the terrain where Civil Society can exert its influence.
As for addressing the indicators for the sub-measures, the committee suggests that “the economic dimension should be measured through “Tourism Direct GDP” as measured in UNWTO’s Tourism Satellite Accounting”. This however is a highly contentious instrument that lacks the ability to qualify growth [13]. The proposal to measure the social dimension through “Employment in the tourism industries” fails to address the many challenges of the creation of “decent” jobs in tourism. On top of that it frames decent work as a social dimension deflecting from the fact that labor should be addressed as an essential element of the economic domain.

As a conclusion, it is quite remarkable and worrying that the UNWTO has not been able to come up with a “solid framework of indicators and statistical data” required to measure SDG 8, especially since decent tourism jobs and the relation between growth and tourism have been center to the sustainable tourism debate since its beginning in the 1990s.

5. What role can Civil society play in the indicator debate?

Over a period of 20 years, from the 1999 UN-CSD until now, efforts of the European NGOs united in The Tourism European Network, to cooperate with the UNWTO have shown not to be efficient nor effective for critical NGOs and there is not a lot of enthusiasm to continue trying. However in the SDG process, the UNWTO cannot be ignored. To optimize influence on the SDG indicators NGOs should address the following issues.
A coherent strategy
Already in 1999 Equations/Tourism Watch study on Gats (Seifert-Granzin & Jesupatham 1999), the elements for a Civil Society sustainable tourism strategy were laid out: “NGOs would have to exercise stronger influence on developing suitable systems of indicators addressing the actual social and ecological costs of the tourism sector remain unaccounted for, the optimistic assumption that progressive liberalisation leads to an increase in welfare in the destination countries remains without foundation. Currently there is a danger that existing systems of indicators to measure the economic importance of tourism will be improved only in a one sided way. (...) It has repeatedly been indicated that those who would be directly affected by uncontrolled liberalisation of the tourism industry have no opportunity to participate in the debate. (..Improvements should...) allow for communities, regions and federal states to have their own independent tourism policies. (.taking...) into account the right of communities to self-determination.” Where these elements are still very valid, to avoid another decade of stagnation, we should, through a thorough and critical (self-)analysis, try to find out why there have been hardly any results after 20 years. One of the elements of such an analysis would be to address how our discourse has been taken over by stakeholders like the UNWTO, lacking any serious implementation, challenging the inconsistencies between their statements and (the effects of) their policies.
Understanding the SDG procedures
The SDGs are UN driven and therefore a bureaucratic process. It is important to understand this process to be able to comply with it (or decide not to comply, and to explain why not). The most direct way for NGOs to get involved in the criteria debate would be through the UNWTO, but this is hardly effective. The next logical institution to approach would be the HLPF (High Level Political Forum) which momentarily is re-evaluating/ organizing the system of Major Groups that the UN-CSD (responsible from 1992 to 2012) had in place. The impact of tourism NGOs on this level would however be minimal. But activities around SDGs are undertaken by many UN institutions such as the General Assembly, ECOSOC, UNDESA and UNSD, and coordinated by the UN Division for SDGs. An assessment should be made how NGO participation is warranted in each of these and of what would be effective ways to influence these institutions.
Understanding Civil Society
Civil Society is not a well-defined concept, made up from many different (and sometimes conflicting) interests which are often represented indirectly (mainly through NGOs). Although it is highly needed here, it is not always in the interest of all stakeholders to create transparency and accountability. In the UN Sustainable Development context the confusion is perpetuated through the categorization of Civil Society: besides Major Groups, Civil Society (CS) interests are addressed as Non-state Actors, NGOs, CSOs, Stakeholders and/or Interest groups. Things are complicated further by grounding CS participation in the move from democratic to participatory society [14]. From a purist democratic perspective this move generates some questions and NGOs should address these in order to legitimize themselves. Felix Dodds, an authority on stakeholder participation suggests the following challenges: “Should NGOs who are strong enough to participate in SDG processes be entitled to influence democratic decisions? Are advocates of civil society actually reducing space for non-state actors and excluding significant actors by doing so?”. The importance of addressing these issues becomes apparent when they are used by powerful stakeholders (such as the Worldbank [15]) to limit CS participation and/or to frame it in their own interests. According to some Civil Society experts, CS was most influential through the Major Groups mechanisms in the CSD process around 2000 [16], but since then, partly because of mismanagement by NGOs, their role has diminished, aggravated by the change from UN-CSD to HLPF [17].
Through National representations
The UN is an intragovernmental body, which is driven by nation states. The logical way for NGOs to influence UN policies is through their national state representation, for instance through the national ministry/department that is responsible for the UNWTO or HLPF. This however can be very slow and complex and is not always unambiguous, for instance where tourism policies are not dealt with in a specialized department, specifically when dealing with outgoing tourism issues [18].Nevertheless, it could offer unexpected opportunities and if we want to legitimize why other roads are taken, it would be good to have at least tried the “national” entry.
Liaising with other Civil Society coalitions
To influence UN policies on SDGs, it would be effective to build relations with other coalitions representing Civil Society. This can be done along thematic lines, as an example of which it seems logical, in the case of SDG 8 to liaise with Labor Unions in the fight for decent work. It can also be done along in line with Major Group procedures of the UN for which cooperation with the Civil Society/NGO sector should be created. But the NGO sector faces some organizational challenges and there have been rifts between organizations along various axes: North vs South, bigger vs smaller, radical vs less radical and between the various interests for (instance social vs ecological). NGOs would have to find a participative and transparent procedure to decide which coalitions would be the best partner to liaise with from many options (like the NGO Major Group, The Reflection group, SDG Watch, Action4SD, Stakeholder Forum, World Social Forum etc).
Organizing is Urgent

Whatever path of participation is chosen, a sense of urgency is required. In 2020 the indicators will have to be established and from then on many conditions shaping the influence of Civil Society in content and in procedures will be laid down for the next decennium. If NGOs do not represent the interests of their constituencies in the process up to the finalization of the indicators, these interests will have a lesser change of being recognized, defended, supported and taken into consideration in evaluations of Agenda 2030.


Seifert-Granzin, J. & Jesupatham, O.S., 1999. Tourism at the Crossroads, Challenges to Developing Countries by the New World Trade Order. EPD Entwicklungspolitik, VI.
UNCED, 1992. Earth Summit‘92. The UN Conference on Environment and Development - Agenda 21. Reproduction.
United Nations, 2012. The Future We Want. Outcome document of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development. In Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development. New York:United Nations.
United Nations General Assembly, 2015a. Transforming our world: The 2030 agenda for sustainable development. New York.
United Nations General Assembly, 2015b. Transforming our world: The 2030 agenda for sustainable development, UNWTO, 1982. Acapulco Document, Acapulco.
UNWTO, 2011. Private Sector Commitment to the UNWTO Global Code of Ethics for tourism.
UNWTO, 2017b. Report of the Manilla meeting of the Measuring Sustainable Tourism, Manilla, the Philippines. UNWTO, 2018a. Statistical Framework for Measuring Sustainable Tourism, Draft Consultation,
UNWTO, 1985. Tourism Bill of Rights. Soifa, Bulgaria: UNWTO General Assembly.
UNWTO, 2018b. Tourism for Development – Volume I: Key Areas for Action.
Ye, J., 2016. The CBDR Principle in the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. China Quarterly of International Strategic Studies.
[1] Unless qualified labor is scarce, which is not the case for most jobs in tourism.
[2] Not related to, but confusingly and heavily leaning on the positive connotation of “sustainable”.
[3] In my opinion this is a dominant but discursive misinterpretation. Already in the late eighties, a large part of civil society in Goa protested through fierce actions against the overtourism by Germans and hippies. Almost all tourism development projects, carried out by development agencies, specifically addressed the importance of respecting the Carrying Capacity or LAC, to avoid “overtourism” as experienced in many southern communities. For many NGOs in the Global South it is hard to swallow that overtourism is only seen as a problem now that it hits the North (they see it as another typical example of the dominance of the North in the sustainability debate).
[4] The quote is: “But are travellers covering their costs? Experts at a roundtable event organised by Cornell University were asked that question and they answered with a resounding “no”. All those around the table—academics and representatives from businesses and destinations—accepted that tourism isn’t paying its way. Our industry is undervaluing its shared products—the destination “assets” visitors enjoy, such as beaches, biodiversity, heritage sites and infrastructure.” The reasons for this include: a) Residents footing the bill for shared infrastructure;  b) Underinvestment in destination maintenance (with most tax revenues being diverted to marketing and promotion); c) Economic “leakage”, where as much as 80% of tourism revenue leaves the country due to taxes, wages, and profits being paid outside of a country, and due to importing food and other goods; d) Government subsidies and tax incentives which distort the commercial costs of tourism Retrieved 10-4-2019 on: foundation-asks-who-pays/ 3/7
[5] 2015-sdgs
[6] This is work in progress, which can be checked at the UNSTATS website.
[7] UNWTO coproduces many documents with other institutions but they do not reflect UNWTO’s own position. The only documents that do are those that are ratified by their general assemble, such as the Code of Ethics (and the Framework) and declarations like those of Chengdu.
[8] Before addressing the UNWTO’s position we should note that the tourism target 8.9 only mentions the creation of jobs and nothing about decent jobs, which might generate complications.
[9] here are early mentions in the Manilla and Acapulco declarations: “Nations should promote improved conditions of employment for workers engaged in tourism and confirm and protect their right to establish professional trade unions and collective bargaining”, ”reasonable limitation of working hours (and) periodic leave with pay” and more recent mentions (Tourism for Development, 2018, Sustainable Tourism for Development Guidebook 2013, Framework convention 2017) “..tourism’s ability to bolster decent work is a complex issue” with “unsocial and irregular working hours, low pay, low job security, a lack of social security and protection, weak career prospects, unhealthy working conditions, and vulnerability to discrimination and exploitation”, “Local populations should (..) share equitably in (,,) the direct and indirect creation of jobs”, “should be given adequate social protection”, “a specific status, with particular regard to their social welfare, should be offered to seasonal workers in the sector”, “job insecurity should be limited”
[10] “Goals 8, 12 and 14 (...) relate, respectively, to inclusive and sustainable economic development, sustainable consumption and production, and sustainable use of oceans and marine resources”, “targets relating to sustainable tourism are explicitly referenced in SDG 8 on inclusive and sustainable economic growth”.
[11] Press release by UNEP and UNWTO, one-billion-tourists-sustainable-future retrieved 19-10-2018
[12] La IAEG-SDGs es la Inter-agency and Expert Group on SDG Indicators.
[13] However, already in 1999, paragraph 36 (b) of the concluding document of the UNCSD-7 has addressed the flaws of the TSA asking for “Including environmental and social accounts in the development of “tourism satellite accounts”, which cover only the economic costs and benefits of tourism.” (World Tourism Organization - UN. Secretary-General, 1999, page 11)
[14] Felix Dodds has written a number of articles and books on this.
[15] For instance the Worldbank is trying to stretch the concept of CS by including the private sector: “The Bank traditionally focused on NGOs in its operations and dialogue, given their prominent role in development activities. Today, however, there is general acceptance that the Bank must reach out more broadly to CSOs, including not just NGOs, but also trade unions, community-based organizations, social movements, faith-based institutions, charitable organizations, universities, foundations, professional associations, and others.” (World Bank, 2007).
[16] Felix Dodds quoting Maurice Strong.
[17] Strandenaes compares access and participation for non-state actors where HPLF in contrast to CSD does not allow access and participation to all negotiations and meetings, nor to all delegates on the floor. One of the elements most missed are the CSD Multi-stakeholder Dialogues. And finally some transparency is missing since the CSD was negotiated in accessible rooms but where the HLPF does debate and report, it is not clear where the final ministerial declaration is negotiated.
[18] For instance the representation to the UNWTO in the Netherlands is shared between a number of departments, none of which is very active (nor enthusiastic for that matter) on UNWTO issues.
[19] According to F. Dodds in his forthcoming book on Stakeholder Democracy with Minu Hemmati and Carolina Duque, planned to be released by Routledge in the summer of 2019.
CS: Civil Society
CSO: Civil Society Organizations
DDA: Doha Development Agenda
CBDR: Common but Differentiated Responsibilities
ECOSOC: United Nations Economic and Social Council
EIF: Enhanced Integrated Framework for Trade-Related Technical Assistance to Least Developed Countries GDP: Gross Domestic Product
GATS: General Agreement on Trade in Services
HLPF: High Level Political Forum
IMF: International Monetary Fund
ITC: international Trade Center
LAC: Limits of Acceptable Change
LDC: Least Developed Country
ILO: International Labor Organization
NGO: Non Governmental Organization
SDGs: Sustainable Development Goals
SF-MST: The Statistical Framework for Measuring the Sustainability of Tourism
UN: United Nations
UNCED: United Nations Conference on Environment and Development
UN-CSD: UN Commission on Sustainable Development)
UNCTAD: United Nations Conference on Trade and Development
UNDESA: United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs
UNDP: United Nations Development Fund
UNEP: United Nations Environment Fund
UNSD: United Nations Statistical Department also known as UNSTATS and Statistics Division of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs
UNWTO: United Nations World Tourism Organization

Reconocimiento - NoComercial - SinObraDerivada
Webdesign: IBIS Servicios The content of this website is licensed under a Creative Commons Licence.