Data for Good
Tourism is an important sector for development in many countries. In leading tourist destination countries like the UK, Greece and Thailand, it accounts for between 3.7 to 9.3% of GDP. But the economic benefits of tourism are not always shared equally. Often, it is the big cities or those with the main tourist attractions that reap most, if not all, of the benefits. Policymakers interested in promoting tourism as a development strategy should consider ways to more equitably spread the benefits throughout the country.
An analysis of foreign tourist spending conducted by Harvard’s Center for International Development reveals unique insights on the economic impacts of tourism. Researchers used anonymized and aggregated MasterCard spend data to compare foreign tourist spending in Colombia and the Netherlands. Key findings include:
Tourists are more likely to spend money where making payments is convenient and secure. Enabling greater acceptance of electronic payments outside of the main urban areas and beyond larger merchants would increase the opportunity for inclusive growth.
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