Should poorer countries develop their tourist industry when the basic needs of their people are not met?


YES: Tourism is essential to poorer countries as it delivers on both basic and long-term needs which are presently unmet or under-addressed.

  1. Tourism can generate a variety of jobs for people in poorer countries, such as those in the hotel and retail industry, making it vital to alleviating poverty.

  2. By deciding to develop tourism, more investment by both the government and private sector investors into infrastructure will follow, providing improvements in roads, telecommunications and transport vital to economic development for poorer countries. 

  3. Poorer countries may possess features highly suitable to tourism, such as unique cultural heritage sites or natural wilderness that can be turned into nature reserves, and it would be practical to develop tourism into a key driver of economic growth.


NO: Tourism may provide some secondary benefits but is largely irrelevant or even harmful to the well-being of poor countries whose basic needs are not met.

  1. Alongside legitimate jobs generated by tourism, illegitimate ones such as prostitution and gambling can arise and rapidly spread beyond the authorities’ control, harming the long-term well-being of the people in poorer countries.

  2. Infrastructural improvements in poorer countries arising from investment into the tourism sector may beconfined or limited to the sector itself, and the beneficiaries may be restricted to the tourists or local elites.

  3. More important infrastructural needs for the majority of poor citizens, such as low-cost housing are also often neglected by the authorities, who may be corrupt and have vested interests in developing tourism infrastructure with foreign collaborators.

  4. While poorer countries may possess suitable resources to develop tourism, the benefits from developing other sectors, such as agriculture and low-cost manufacturing, may be greater and yield more immediate benefits to the people, making them a greater priority than tourism.