I just finished reading a very interesting report published last year by the World Tourism Organization. It’s called Tourism and Migration: Exploring the Relationship between Two Global Phenomena. As the title of the report suggests, the authors are interested in dealing with the relationship between tourism and migration, given the fact that both phenomena involve movements of people across the globe. The report introduces two interesting and somewhat self-explanatory concepts which are used to make the authors’ points: Tourism-led Migration and Migration-Led Tourism.
The Tourism-led Migration is a result of the spike in international tourism and the relaxation of regulations regarding tourists traveling around the world (or at least in some localized regions). Basically, what the authors mean by this is that Tourism-led Migration is a process caused by the demand for seasonal labor in the tourist industry in some select destinations. For example, during the summer, hotels and tourist attractions in France might need extra employees. Given the fact that France is a member of the European Union, a business entrepreneur in France could afford, and would very likely hire cheap labor from Central or Eastern Europe and, more often than not, will do it at a cost lower than the local cost of labor.
Migration-led Tourism refers primarily to expats who travel back to their countries of origin, thus contributing to the local economic affairs and tourism industry as well as generating remittances for the family members left behind.
Some of the key suggestions of the report are as follows:
Migration-led Tourism can contribute to poverty alleviation.
Migrants’ remittances represent a critical instrument for enhancing tourism-related investments in the origin countries.
The lower the level of development in the origin countries, the greater the contribution of migration.
Diaspora networks represent a critical factor in development.
The report also deals with a series of study cases where the interplay of migration and tourism is analyzed. The countries considered in this report are: China, India, Japan, Philippines, USA, France, Germany, Turkey, and the United Kingdom. There is also a section on Central America.
It’s a pretty light reading, primarily building on existing literature, but it does at the very least suggests that the connection between tourism and migration needs to be further analyzed.