officially recognized by the United Nations in 1971. Still, their
overall share in international tourism is small, accounting for less than 1% of global tourism
Over the last few years, information and communication technologies (ICT) have had a growing impact on tourism promotion, marketing and sales. With the advent of new forms of
ICT, a novel type of tourism, e-tourism, has emerged that is radically transforming the
international tourism industry. More and more people now prefer to search for information on
tourism destinations and offers on the Internet.
But in most cases it is not developing countries that benefit from new tourism opportunities.
World tourism is mostly concentrated in a handful of rich countries, which both run the
business and reap the benefits. Most information on tourism opportunities in developing
countries is generated, updated and marketed online by major international service providers
based in developed countries. With their obvious technological advantage, these providers
carry out most of the sales transactions and absorb a large share of the profits. In African
LDCs, up to 85% of total profits from the tourism industry are repatriated to developed
countries. The situation is not much better in the Caribbean (80%) or Asia (70% in Thailand
and 40% in India).
What can be done to reverse this trend? One solution is for developing countries to take Fadvantage of the new opportunities offered by ICT to brand and promote their own tourism industry. Unlimited and low-cost access to world markets and information and trade networks is essential. To achieve this would require wider involvement of local small and medium-sized tourism enterprises in global ICT networks as well as innovative national ICT policies for the sector. But the challenge is worth it: e-tourism could help developing countries exploit the untapped development opportunities tourism offers and, if set up efficiently, could give them better control of their own tourism industry.