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Guiding Principle #5:

Demand fair income distribution

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Set policies that counter unequal tourism benefits within destination communities that maximize retention of tourism revenues within those communities.

Inappropriately large shares of tourism profits should not leave the destination (known as “leakage”). Nor should all the profits end up in the hands of one business or family to the exclusion of the rest of the community, nor should they bypass any marginalized communities within the destination. 


Local residents should have first right of refusal for tourism jobs, with access to capacity training as needed, and real opportunity for upward mobility.  Whenever possible, there should be a link from the tourism supply chains to the local communities - for example, incorporating locally-made handicrafts in gift shops, building a circular economy with linkages to the local agricultural sector rather than mass-imports, driving business to social enterprise that through their business structure directly impact the local people, etc. Tourism revenues should support the destination’s environmental and socio-cultural programs whenever possible. A healthy community is the basis for a healthy tourism sector.

Real life examples:

  1. Tour evaluation system to help one of the world’s largest adventure travel companies evaluate and boost their local impact.

  2. Project helping rural small-scale farmers in southwest Turkey benefit from tourism

  3. Panama tourism to empower local and Indigenous communities

  4. Namibia’s award-winning ≠Khoadi-//Hôas conservancy has often been cited as a success story in both conservation and community benefit

  5. The province of Puno is a model for community-based tourism in Peru, as it has implemented a successful community management model

The questions we should ask to further achieve this principle:

  • Simply, who gets the money?

  • Are the vendors you are working with hiring locally and providing local goods?

  • Are locals able to advance into higher-level positions?

Further resources: 

GSTC Destination Criteria
SECTION A: Sustainable management
A(a) Management structure and framework
  A3 Monitoring and reporting
SECTION B: Socio-economic sustainability
B(a) Delivering local economic benefits
  B1 Measuring the economic contribution of tourism

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