Tourists on tour

Tourism An opportunity for sustainable development

Tourism offers great opportunities for emerging economies and developing countries. It creates jobs, strengthens the local economy, contributes to local infrastructure development and can help to conserve the natural environment and cultural assets and traditions, and to reduce poverty and inequality. This can be achieved, in particular, if local people are able to benefit from the income opportunities arising from tourism.

The COVID-19 pandemic brought severe restrictions for global travel, especially for travel to countries in the Global South. In 2020, many countries saw a temporary standstill in the tourism sector. The sector's contribution to global GDP dropped by nearly half, and more than 60 million jobs were lost.

Germany is therefore using its development cooperation to help its partner countries cope with the crisis and achieve a sustainable recovery. More generally, it works towards fostering the sustainable development of tourism at destinations, and it fosters cooperation with the tourism industry, always pursuing the goal of using tourism projects in order to contribute to sustainable development in its partner countries.

Hotel employee in Rwanda

German activities COVID-19 Response Measures for Tourism Internal link

The BMZ has launched COVID-19 Response Measures for Tourism geared towards using the tourism sector to foster crisis management, recovery and resilience. Through that measures, it is responding to the challenges which the COVID-19 pandemic has created for tourism in its partner countries.

Recycling and circular economy at a hotel

German activities Cooperation with the tourism industry Internal link

In order to make tourism in developing countries and emerging economies more sustainable and more crisis-resilient, there needs to be close cooperation between the tourism industry, academia, and the development community. The BMZ therefore supports exchange and transfer of knowledge between the various stakeholders.

The BMZ's approach Sustainability and responsibility in the tourism sector

Farmer in a greenhouse in South Africa
Farmer in a greenhouse in South Africa

Sustainable tourism is based on a long-term perspective. It adheres to ethical principles and is geared towards social justice, respect for cultural differences, environmental responsibility, and economic benefits.

The BMZ supports projects and initiatives to foster the sustainable development of tourism in the countries of the Global South.

It considers tourism an important tool for development policy. In other words, tourism is used mainly as a lever for fostering local and regional economic development in line with the United Nations 2030 Agenda. Activities focus, for example, on creating jobs and income, fostering human rights and gender equality, and protecting the natural environment, biodiversity and cultural assets and traditions within the tourism sector and beyond.

In order to achieve these goals, the BMZ is pursuing more than 100 projects in its partner countries that are related to tourism. Examples of projects can be found in the following countries and regions:

Logo: Tourism for SDGs

T4SDG Tourism for SDGs External link

Platform of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) for exchange on the implementation of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals in the tourism industry

Project examples

Hiking in southern Tunisia

Tunisia: Developing sustainable tourism options Internal link

The tourism sector is one of Tunisia's most important industries. However, tourism has so far concentrated mainly on the coastal regions. Through its development cooperation, Germany is supporting the development of tourism products in adjacent and economically less successful regions of the country.

At Goshavank Monastery in Tavush Province in north-eastern Armenia, audio guides are available for visitors.

Armenia: Innovative approaches to strengthen the private tourism industry Internal link

Armenia is not yet tapping its potential for tourism to the full. Germany is assisting the country in developing its tourism sector in a sustainable, forward-looking way.

Training for Desert Kayak Trail, Namibia

Southern Africa: Fostering cross-border nature tourism Internal link

In order to conserve biodiversity, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) supports the establishment of transboundary protected areas in the region and helps to develop programmes and strategies for their sustainable management.


Economic significance of tourism

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, tourism had for decades been one of the fastest-growing industries. While the number of international tourist arrivals in 1950 was only 25 million, it had risen to 674 million by 2000 and to 1.5 billion by 2019. Domestic tourism has also become more and more important.

As the number of tourists has grown, so has the economic significance of tourism. In 2019, tourism accounted for about ten per cent of global GDP (gross domestic product). One in ten jobs worldwide is directly related to tourism.

Over the past few decades, the importance of tourist destinations in the Global South has risen continuously as well. While in 1995 the share of international arrivals in developing countries and emerging economies was only 26 per cent, it was already as much as 38 per cent by 2010. More than half of all Germans (52 per cent) have already visited an emerging or developing country.

As at: 25/05/2022