A new research project sponsored by the World Bank and led by the University of Kent will for the first time examine in detail the economic impact of tourism – both in sparking growth and on poverty – in small island states such as the Maldives.
Although many small island developing states (SIDS) are highly dependent on tourism as measured in GDP and employment, little research has been carried out to date on how tourism fosters growth within the local economy and what impact it has on poverty and local opportunities.
Now Dr Mark Hampton, of Kent Business School at the University of Kent, is set to begin a study funded by the World Bank on how tourism may contribute more effectively to inclusive growth within SIDS and what policy changes might promote this.
‘Since the 1970s, the conventional wisdom of policy-makers and the international donor community has seen international tourism as a main driver of overall economic growth,’ said Dr Hampton.
‘Tourism contributes to GDP and employment – both direct and indirect – as well as being an important source of government revenue. However, the net benefits of tourism to the host economy in SIDS are not well understood, nor specifically, how tourist expenditure circulates within such small economies.’
‘In addition, tourism’s potential impact upon poverty in small economies, and its potential to facilitate inclusive growth, are presently little researched.’
Dr Hampton, who is the study’s principal investigator, will lead a team that includes senior academics from Birmingham and Bournemouth universities.
The project will be based at Kent Business School’s Centre for Tourism in Island and Coastal Areas and it is expected that the final report will be delivered to the World Bank in July 2012.