Travel stimulates economies and helps poorer nations, says expert

LONDON – Instead of dampening travel for its citizens and curbing the flow of tourism cash for developing countries, the British and other G-20 Governments should offer cash incentives to its travelers who visit climate-friendly destinations, proposed a development expert.

Speaking at a high-profile panel organized by the UK Tourism Society, Lelei TuiSamoa LeLaulu said the new Airline Passenger Departure tax leveled by the UK Government was hindering development in poorer nations by drastically reducing the number of British tourists to the developing world.

Lelei TuiSamoa LeLaulu

“British tourists take and leave more cash to island nations and most developing countries than the UK Government gives in aid,” asserted LeLaulu, chairman of the Foundation of the Peoples of the South Pacific International (, the largest non-government development agency in Oceania.

LeLaulu was speaking at the Tourism Society debate with the UN World Tourism Organization regarding stimulus for G-20 economies. The high profile panel debate looked at the implications of the G-20 Summit outcomes on the international tourism industry.

“Tourism is the largest voluntary transfer of resources from the rich to the not-so-rich in history,” asserted LeLaulu, “and for the most part these tourism dividends go straight to benefit the communities which host the visitors.”

Questioning the UK government’s taxing of travelers for their carbon emissions, LeLaulu asserted the Green Globe sustainability index indicates European and North American travelers emit less carbon in developing world destinations than they would if they stayed in their own countries, “so UK citizens would be more climate friendly in Samoa or St. Lucia, for example, than they would be at home.”

“Instead of deterring travel with these curious taxes, the British and other G-20 governments should issue vouchers worth US $1,000 to citizens of their countries who visited destinations which were climate friendly,” he suggested.

“These vouchers could not be used on European airlines but would be cashed in when it was proved the money was used in climate-friendly hotels and other amenities at developing country destinations,” he said. “Since the recession is caused in part by people not using their savings,” he said, the G-20 economies would be stimulated “when people took money from their savings to pay travel agents and for tickets on their struggling airlines.”

LeLaulu was part of a panel which included Lord Thurso MP, Liberal Democrat Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform; Dr. Taleb Rifai, Secretary General for the UNWTO, Christopher Rodrigues OBE, Chairman of VisitBritain; Marthinus Van Schalkwyk, Minister of Tourism of the Republic of South Africa; and Professor Geoffrey Lipman of the Christel DeHaan Tourism & Travel Research Institute and Assistant Secretary General of the UNWTO.

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