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Tourism as a source of prosperity and potential dialogue among cultures*
Tourism has become a major industry in the World economy. According
to World Tourism Organization (WTO) estimates, in 2000, international
arrivals reached a record 968 million and tourism receipts amounted
to US$476 billion. Although international arrivals declined by 1.3%
in 2001, due to the terrorist attacks of September 11 and the weakening
economies of major tourism generating markets, the industry showed signs
of recovery during the first quarter of 2002. Prior to 2001, the long
term forecast was for international arrivals to surpass one billion
by 2010 and 1.56 billion by 2020.
Globalization and its attendant challenges for the marketing of agricultural primary products and increasing competitiveness in manufacturing is rapidly forcing many countries of the Hemisphere to specialize in those areas in which they enjoy competitive advantage. Many countries of the Caribbean are heavily dependent on tourism and have developed the industry to a level where it is one of the major contributors of foreign exchange and employment. Development of the tourism industry requires other sectors in the economy to keep in step with the growth of the industry, if its development is not to be constrained. Tourism therefore acts as a catalyst for the development of other sectors including transport, handicraft, construction, agriculture and manufacturing. It also makes possible the viability of other service industries including food and beverage, duty free operations, aquatic sports, entertainment and travel services.
Travelers today place less emphasis on rest and relaxation and events and places. Today’s tourist has a growing curiosity about “things local” including foods, architecture, culture, indigenous groups and religious practices. At the same time, the need to meet visitor expectations is giving rise to greater scientific study about customer segments, needs and preferences. People have therefore become important focal points of the travel experience. This curiosity to learn and share experiences has opened up opportunities for dialogue and understanding among destination hosts and their visitors. For those countries, which have been able to successfully develop the industry, tourism has provided considerable prosperity and potential dialogue among different cultures.?
Cecil Miller, Guest Editor
Director of the Inter-Sectoral Unit of Tourism of the OAS
*The ideas, thoughts, and opinions expressed are not necessarily of the OAS nor of its member states. The opinions expressed are the responsibility of the authors.
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