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Responsible Capitalism

Tourism: an industry update

Tourism: an industry update


State of the industry

The global tourism industry has the potential to massively aid the cause of sustainable and inclusive economic development around the world. Tourism is the world’s third largest employer, sustaining twice as many jobs as the financial sector and accounting for 10% of global GDP. Tourism has also managed to consistently outperform the global economic growth rate for the last few years. 

The tourism industry is also unique in the type of people that it employs. Tourism is the largest industry in many developing countries and is almost twice as likely to employ women than other industries. Because of their low-skilled nature, tourism jobs also serve as a great provider of opportunities to marginalised communities. 

Tourists are attracted to a country because of its natural beauty and unique culture. However, these pulling factors are often tainted by global corporations and their all-inclusive resort franchises.These corporate giants often take advantage of local communities and capitalise on cheap labor costs. Sustainable tourism has the ability to help developing countries avoid debilitating ‘races to the bottom’ where conditions and wages are driven down in order to attract big corporations.

Trends and challenges going forward

In 2017, the UN recognised 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism, recognising the potential of tourism to eradicate poverty, empower disadvantaged groups and minimise adverse impacts on the environment. However, for this to occur, sustainable tourism practices must be embraced. The good news is that the trends lines show that tourism is becoming increasingly sustainable. 

AIG Travel’s 2017 Pulse poll found that 78% of respondents viewed sustainable tourism as important, a massive 26% increase from the previous year as awareness of the industry’s huge potential spreads.

This development has been noted by Lonely Planet, who reported that sustainable tourism will become a ‘top industry trend.’ Not only do sustainable travellers leave a lighter impact on the environment and local culture, but they also spend about 61% more than the average tourist. 

However, despite the positive trends, the tourism industry has no shortage of challenges as it attempts to transition to a more sustainable model. Overcrowding continues to be a challenge for many destinations. Moreover, only 5% of the money spent by tourists actually remains in local economies. As an industry, tourism remains heavily dependent on fossil fuels and will have to undertake significant adjustments as the global economy transitions towards renewable energy. 

Your role

Although governments and tourism operators have a huge responsibility, tourists have a vital role to play in the transition to a more sustainable tourism industry. With the internet at their disposal, tourists have the ability and the responsibility to ensure that the companies they travel with hire local, buy local and have a limited impact on the environment.

If tourists chose the right companies, demand for sustainable tourism practices will increase, thereby encouraging other companies to embrace a more sustainable model.

Tourism has the potential to be a massive force for good, but it is up to us all to ensure that the transitional to responsible, sustainable tourism actually occurs.

How tourism can support sustainable economic growth

How tourism can support sustainable economic growth

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A vital part of the eighth Sustainable Development Goal is to promote the growth of small and medium sized enterprises and to achieve full and productive employment for everyone, including women and the disabled.


Creating well-paying and sustainable jobs is a particularly relevant concern to Nepal, where the majority of the working population is employed in small-scale agriculture.

Women and especially disabled women face multiple barriers in gaining access to employment. Being victims of double discrimination, disabled women are cast down, stigmatised and often excluded from the rest of the community. They have very little access to education (a majority receives no education at all) and they have very little opportunity when it comes to finding employment.  Accordingly, many becomes unemployed.

Thankfully, tourism has the potential to transform Nepal's economy and help lift many people out of poverty. Globally, the growth of the tourist industry is expected to outpace the global growth rate, while by 2030, 57% of global tourist arrivals will be to developing countries like Nepal. Accordingly, there exists real opportunities for the expansion of burgeoning small and medium sized enterprises, particularly in the hospitality sector, as Nepal caters for up to 1.5m tourists by 2020.  


Here at Hands on Development, we run 10-day cultural immersion tours and treks to Nepal. We employ those who need it the most and help create sustainable and inclusive jobs by partnering with Seven Women, which supports disabled and disadvantaged women from and around Kathmandu.

On our tours, participants attend Nepali language and cooking lessons run by the women, whilst also having the opportunity to purchase handcrafts made at the Seven Women Centre. In turn, the profits from these activities provide the women income whilst also supporting their ongoing education and vocational training.

Your support and participation does make a real and meaningful difference. 

Rotarians unite for Hands on Development tour to Nepal

Rotarians unite for Hands on Development tour to Nepal


Recently, twenty-two rotarians from all over Australia had the opportunity to participate in a ten day tour of Nepal. What quickly became clear is that Rotary International and Hands on Development are a match made in heaven. 

Common ground 

As well as soaking up the litany of UNESCO world heritage sights in and around Kathmandu, the twenty two rotarians also had the chance to put their values in action by directly making a difference. 

Promoting education and community-focused economic development through innovative projects represents Rotary’s core purpose. There is no better place to do all of these things than in Kathmandu. 

Throughout the Hands on Development tour, the rotarians had the opportunity to visit and support Dambar and the Association for Craft Producers — two local enterprises which directly contribute to community and economic development through their commitment to fair trade principles and providing opportunities to disadvantaged people. 

Visit to Seven Women Centre

The Rotarians also had the opportunity to visit the Seven Women centre, which through its innovative partnership with Hands on Development has provided education, vocational training and economic opportunities to over 5, 000 people. 

The group had the opportunity to attend language and cooking classes run by the women, as well as engaging in sessions where the rotarians were able to share their unique expertise.

An inspiring journey 

The rotarians who participated on the trip came away full of inspiration after seeing how Seven Women has been able to help disadvantaged Nepali women along the path to economic empowerment and self-sufficiency. 

One tour-group member, Dianne Hennessy, described visiting the centre as the ‘opportunity of a lifetime’ and all members spoke of the sense of togetherness and purpose that they felt from being apart of the group.

Sue Power ultimately summed up the feelings of the entire group when she described the trip as a ‘very memorable’ experience which she highly recommends to all Rotary members, and indeed any ‘who cares about making a difference.’

How to Holiday and support Sustainable Capitalism!

How to Holiday and support Sustainable Capitalism!

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Overconsumption and the inefficient use of resources is a huge challenge going forward as the world moves towards a sustainable economy. The twelfth Sustainable Development Goal aims to achieve responsible production and consumption by achieving a sustainable balance between natural resource use and economic growth.

Sustainably harnessing the power of tourism

Tourism accounts for 10% of global GDP and around 30% of global exports. Improving the sustainability of tourism is therefore crucial to achieving the twelfth SDG.

Unfortunately, stories too often abound of environmental damage and scarcity caused by the overconsumption of local resources. Mass influxes of tourists can also erode local cultures. When these things occur, it damages local communities and threatens the beauty which draws visitors in the first place. 

In Nepal, tourism puts pressure on already scarce local resources in places like Kathmandu. Tourism also contributes to local waste management problems. Nowhere is this more evident than on Mount Everest, where up to 50 tonnes of rubbish has accumulated. 

Be part of the solution

Fortunately, by focusing on sustainable and responsible tourism, companies like Hands on Development are offering affordable travel experiences which support rather than burden local communities. 

Our smaller tour group sizes minimise the impact on the local environment and preserves the sanctity of local sights. Participants also have the opportunity to support and learn about sustainable local enterprises. By engaging in cooking, craft and language classes, tour participants learn about the local culture and support economic development, all in a respectful and sustainable manner.

By choosing to holiday with Hands on Development, you can enjoy unforgettable experiences while directly contributing to the transition to a more sustainable global economy and tourism industry. Not only will the planet and local communities win, but you yourself will have a more memorable and meaningful experience.