Countries / Territories

Opening Speech: Patricia Francis. "Tourism’s potential for sustainable development in LDCs". WEDF 2011, Istanbul, 10 May 2011

  • Your Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen. Last September we met in Chongqing, China to look at new patterns of trade and the role of emerging countries as markets. The world was pulling out of its worst crisis and China had just become the second largest economy.

    Today we meet in Istanbul and, as we have heard in the opening of LDC-IV, despite a decade of global attention the state of LDCs has undeniably worsened since LDC-III. There are more LDCs now than there were 20 years ago, and they are more impoverished.

    In our 2010 report Market Access, Transparency and Fairness in Global Trade we reviewed the exports of 33 LDCs and found that on average they retained only 14 cents per US$ 100 dollars of exports, showing how little value was captured by these countries.

    We are clearly not doing the right thing – spending time on theory and rhetoric and not enough on the specifics, on pragmatic and more results-oriented action.

    We know market access is necessary but not sufficient. While addressing macro issues may make it possible for LDC firms to be internationally competitive, it is a business' specific capability to produce marketable products that makes it actually happen. The private sector – small- and medium-sized enterprises when competitive – will generate growth and create jobs.

    Attention therefore needs to be paid to microeconomic reform, infrastructure development and the building of support institutions, as well as policies that promote inclusive development, respect for the environment, as envisioned in the World Trade Organization’s Aid for Trade Initiative.

    ITC provides trade-related technical assistance. Our key strategic objective is to increase the capacity of the private sector to take advantage of the global trading system. Our priorities are LDCs, LLDCs, SIDS and sub-Saharan Africa. Over 55% of our work was done there in 2010. It is our goal for LDC-IV and WEDF to seize the opportunity of having so many private- and public-sector partners supporting LDCs – to explore, define and commit to work.

    We began our thinking on WEDF by assessing the opportunities.
    -    Last year in Chongqing – there was consensus that trade in services was expanding, and that tourism in particular represented a viable entry for many developing countries;
    -    30 of 35 Diagnostic Trade Integration Studies (DTIS) completed by LDCs saw the potential for tourism-led growth;
    -    And international arrivals in LDCs increased by an average of 11% a year between 1990 and 2009.

    Tourism is one of the top contributors to job creation, and can be of direct benefit at the local level if a high percentage of purchases are done locally and communities are engaged constructively.

    Preparing for the WEDF has been a staged process. First, we held brainstorming sessions with CEOs and decision-makers from multinational tourism companies interested in investing in LDCs in order to explore the barriers they face while investing.

    This informed the discussions that followed, where we brought the public and private sectors together in Nairobi to review project ideas and to broadly define the scope of projects that would be feasible and market oriented. We also looked at the expectations of project sponsors, stakeholders, the market and the capacity of ITC to respond, all the while trying to be honest about all of our limitations. And finally we looked at areas where we could partner with others   such as with UN Women, UNCTAD, our supporting partner UNWTO, and the private sector.

    Finally, here in Istanbul, it is time to commit.

    Over the next two days, the plenary sessions will broaden the discussion, and four workshops will develop projects in a more comprehensive manner, with inputs from workshop attendees and potential partners. These projects are real and will require further action. Our commitment is to follow the project development process. The workshops cover:
    -    Engaging women vendors in the tourism value chain
    -    Managing tourism after a crisis
    -    Backward linkages for agriculture in the tourism supply chain
    -    Inclusive tourism through protection and promotion of cultural heritage and handicrafts.

    Following WEDF, the projects will be further developed in-country and validated by local stakeholders, with a view to producing bankable project documents and commitments from implementing partners.

    We will also produce a guide with UNWTO and the ILO on how to manage conflict and crisis, as well as a toolkit created with the Steering Committee for Tourism Development, which is made up of UNCTAD, WTO, UNWTO, ILO, UNDP, UNESCO, UNEP and UNIDO. We will showcase this toolkit tomorrow at our closing session.

    Additionally we have involved the EIF, SECO, AUSaid, NZAID and other development partners in the project development process so that once countries submit their proposals, the funders will already be familiar with the proposals, which are demand-led and examined by private-sector practitioners.

    ITC’s intention is to come out of WEDF and LDC-IV with a concrete plan of action for 2012 and beyond, working with LDCs and partners to achieve Export Impact for Good. We are showcasing good practices in project development – still a challenge for LDCs where available resources remain underutilized – and hope that others will learn from this experience.

    It is time for action.

    We look forward to reporting back to you tomorrow on our progress, and to your active participation in the event. Welcome to WEDF.

    It is now my distinct pleasure to welcome to the podium the Deputy Prime Minister of Turkey, His Excellency Mister Ali Babacan, to welcome you all and to showcase his country’s remarkable transformation and the role that the services sector, particularly tourism, has played in Turkey’s development.

    As prepared for delivery