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Regional tourism and South‐South economic cooperation

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Abstract:

Regional tourism within developing countries is a growing phenomenon. Yet this aspect has been largely neglected in social science research as well as tourism planning. This paper highlights the general nature, scale and economic significance of regional tourism in three leading regions in Asia, Africa and Latin America. The topic is especially timely as economic self‐reliance and cooperation are increasingly reiterated in the context of the emergence of regional groupings. A key question addressed is whether regional tourism development represents any new and viable prospects for regional economic improvement and partnership, especially compared to international tourism centred on attracting visitors from industrialized countries. Based on a critical assessment of the experiences of three regional blocs (ASEAN – the Association of South‐East Asian Nations; SADC – the Southern African Development Community; and Mercosur – a common market comprising Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay, with Chile being an associated member), the paper suggests that a basic appreciation of the prospects of regional tourism is not enough to produce perceptible benefits. Regional tourism development is occurring in a haphazard manner, with little attention to managing existing socio‐economic inequalities and centre‐periphery relations. The paper is based primarily on the review of secondary literature readily available to the author combined with a few documents obtained directly from different regional organizations or through Internet search. A small amount of material, especially concerning emerging tourism trends and outcomes, is drawn from a research project on national mass tourism in developing countries coordinated by the author at the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development, Geneva.

Document Type: Original Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1475-4959.00010

Affiliations: United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD), Geneva, Switzerland

Publication date: June 1, 2001

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