The recognition of the importance and potential contribution of tourism in national development strategies and in the global development agenda is becoming a reality. Human communities represent both a primary resource upon which tourism depends, and their existence in a particular place at a particular time may be used to justify the development of tourism itself.
Tourism has many characteristics that make it especially valuable as an agent for development. As a cross cutting sector, it stimulates productive capacities from trade and the provision of jobs linked to the tourism value chain. In particular, it thrives on assets, such as the natural environment, a warm climate, rich cultural heritage and plentiful human resources, in which developing countries have a comparative advantage.
The tourism sector can be a vehicle to foster economic and social growth, through the achievement of development imperatives, while minimizing negative social, cultural and environmental impacts. It highlights in particular the complexity of tourism in its linkages with the whole economic and social fabrics and shows the contrast between its high potential to build better lives for all and the low priority it has been given so far in terms international aid.