Overview of Pro-Poor Tourism Strategies


Strategies for pro poor tourism can be divided into those that generated three different types of local benefit: economic benefits, other livelihood benefits (such as physical, social or cultural improvements), and less tangible benefits of participation and involvement. Each of these can be further disaggregated into specific types of strategies.

Strategies focused on economic benefits include:

  • Expansion of employment and local wages: via commitments to local jobs, training up locals for employment
  • Expansion of business opportunities for the poor. These may be businesses/entrepreneurs that sell inputs such as food, fuel, or building materials to tourism operations. Or they may be businesses that offer products directly to tourists, such as guiding, crafts, tea shops etc. Support can vary from marketing and technical support (e.g. by nearby mainstream operators), to shifts in procurement strategy, or direct financial and training inputs.
  • Development of collective community income. This may be from equity dividends, lease fee, revenue share, or donations, usually established in partnership with tourism operators or government institutions.

In general, staff wages are a massive boost to those few that get them, small earnings help many more to make ends meet, and collective income can benefit the majority, but can often be misused. Thus all three types are important for reaching different poor families. Strategies to create these benefits need to tackle many obstacles to economic participation, including lack of skills, low understanding of tourism, poor product quality and limited market access.

Strategies to enhance other (non-cash) livelihood benefits generally focus on:

  • Capacity building, training and empowerment
  • Mitigation of the environmental impact of tourism on the poor and management of competing demands for access to natural resources between tourism and local people
  • Address competing use of natural resources
  • Improved social and cultural impacts of tourism
  • Improved access to services and infrastructure: health care, radio access, security, water supplies, transport.

Such strategies can often begin by reducing negative impacts – such as cultural intrusion, or lost access to land or coast. But more can be done to then address these issues positively, in consultation with the poor. Opportunities to increase local access to services and infrastructure often arise when these are being developed for the needs of tourists, but with some consultation and adaptation could also serve the needs of residents. Strategies for capacity-building may be directly linked to creating boosting cash income, but may also be of more long-term indirect value, such as building management capacity of local institutions.

Strategies focused on policy, process, and participation can create:

  • More supportive policy and planning framework that enables participation by the poor
  • Increased participation by the poor in decision-making: i.e. ensuring that local people are consulted and have a say in tourism decision making by government and the private sector
  • Pro-poor partnerships with the private sector
  • At the minimum: increased flow of information and communication: meetings, report backs, sharing news and plans. This is not participation but lays the basis for further dialogue.

Implementing these strategies may involve lobbying for policy reform, involving the poor in local planning initiatives, amplifying their voice through producer associations, and developing formal and informal links between the poor and private operators.

Table 1 summarises this typology of PPT strategies

Table 1: Types of PPT strategies

Increase economic benefits Enhance non-financial livelihood impacts Enhance participation and partnership
1. Boost local employment, wages
2. Boost local enterprise opportunities
3. Create collective income sources – fees, revenue shares
1. Capacity building, training
2. Mitigate environmental impacts
3. Address competing use of natural resources
4. Improve social, cultural impacts
5. Increase local access to infrastructure and services
1. Create more supportive policy/planning framework
2. Increase participation of the poor in decision-making
3. Build pro-poor partnerships with private sector
4. Increase flows of information, communication