Call to exclude tourism from GATS

PTI | ByBenny Kuruvilla
May 11, 2004 10:13 PM IST

Governments across the world are negotiating a framework for the tourism sector that is fundamentally undemocratic.

The growth of global tourism in the last decade has been truly phenomenal. The twin engines of globalisation and technological innovation have primarily driven the process of making tourism one of the world's largest industries.

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Recent data from the World Tourism Organisation (WTO-OMT) mentions that the number of tourism arrivals worldwide surpassed the 700 million mark for the first time in 2002. Data also shows that international tourism arrivals and presence of foreign providers in the global south are fast increasing as long-haul air transport costs decrease and developing economies open up their markets.

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While increased tourism will definitely lead to more revenues and jobs, the question being raised by critics in developing countries is - Who really benefits from tourism?    

The developmental critique on global tourism is essentially linked to the very reasons that draw multinational tourism providers to the global south. It is the rich biodiversity, cultural heritage and living spaces of communities that often constitute the "tourism product". Local communities across the world are trying to grapple with the mixed and complex socio-economic and environmental impacts of mass tourism as it marches on in its search for newer destinations and greater profits.

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