Centre for Entrepreneurship, SMEs, Regions and Cities

Governments should take action to improve the competitiveness and sustainability of tourism, says the OECD


17 February 2010 - Tourism plays a crucial role in supporting economic growth and development and in sustaining employment.  What has been the impact of the crisis on tourism and what are the main challenges now facing the tourism industry?

A new OECD report, OECD Tourism Trends and Policies 2010, reviews the impact of the crisis on tourism, analyses trends and policies in 42 countries, including all OECD countries and selected non member economies such as Chile, Brazil, India or South Africa and makes a set of policy recommendations on how countries can make their tourism industries more innovative, competitive and sustainable. A detailed statistical profile is given for each country.  All 264 tables in the report have OECD Stat Links and are fully downloadable as Excel tables.

OECD countries continue to play a predominant role in international tourism, representing about 60% of the global tourism market. They also benefit from a domestic tourism which is in many economies more important that international tourism. During the last 20 years, the growth rate of international tourism arrivals in OECD countries, whilst 1.6% below the worldwide rate, has averaged 2.8% per year, well ahead of the GDP growth rate of 2.4% for the zone, with OECD countries accounting for about 60% of the global tourism market.  In the OECD area, tourism GDP accounts for up to 11% of GDP and even more in terms of employment.

Tourism has been hit by the financial and economic crisis that hit the world economy. Tourism flows started to decline in the second half of 2008. That decline deepened at the beginning of 2009 (–12.5% and –6.5% respectively in the first and second quarters). International tourism has been affected more than domestic tourism, business tourism more than leisure tourism, hotels more than other types of accommodation and air transport more than other types of transport. Paradoxically, certain forms of tourism have been impacted only slightly or have even experienced growth in this crisis period, for example, cruise tourism fared pretty well and the 2008-09 winter season in the Alps enjoyed a record year.

Among the report’s recommendations:

  • To remain competitive and sustainable: promote a coherent policy framework by adopting a integrated governmental approach and establishing a business environment that is conducive to growth;
  • To promote an attractive workplace: raise skills in the tourism sector and improve quality and productivity of tourism’s labour forces, via e.g. quality assurance standards and awards for quality achievements;
  • To promote environmental sustainability for green growth: introduce schemes and programmes aimed at raising awareness of the importance of environmentally-responsible tourism and encouraging lower carbon activities;
  • To stimulate innovation: promote best use of human capital, new forms of organisation and management, and new developments of intangible assets based on reputation, image-building, marketing and communication. Facilitate cooperation, the creation of networks and the building of clusters;
  • To develop tools for policy: collect and analyse data on tourism economics, notably promote an increasing use of the Tourism Satellite Account as a platform for dynamic modelling.

For further information, journalists are invited to contact Alain Dupeyras
[tel. +(33) 1 45 24 91 45] in the OECD Centre for Entrepreneurship, SMEs and Local Development.

For more information on OECD work on tourism: www.oecd.org/cfe/tourism.