Last year 842 million tourists travelled abroad. Three-quarters of these journeys started in a high or upper-middle income country and one-third of journeys ended at a destination in a developing country. Understanding the impact on poor countries of this huge inflow of humanity has fascinated researchers since mainstream long-haul tourism started in the 1970s. Despite the voluminous research outputs of economists, anthropologists, sociologists, geographers and a range of development practitioners, there is little understanding and no consensus on what impact tourism has had on poverty.
The objective of this literature review is to assemble what is already known about the poverty-reducing impacts of tourism across a range of developing countries. The paper also reviews different methods that have been used to assess the contributions of tourism to pro-poor growth.