Tourism: Opportunities Abound

Worldwide, tourism employs more than 230 million workers directly—one in 12 overall—while stimulating many other jobs, tax revenues, and related impacts, reaching deep into local economies. Comprising business and leisure hotels, transport, tour operators, restaurants and attractions, its role is vast, and shifting rapidly toward the emerging markets.  It can be a major force for sustainable and inclusive globalization. 

But there is still much to do. The UN’s Global Report on Women in tourism 2010shows that while tourism provides better opportunities for women’s employment, entrepreneurship, and leadership than many other industries, most of its jobs for women in developing countries today are still concentrated in lower-skill positions such as cooking, cleaning, and clerical support. Women in tourism typically earn up to 15 percent less than their male counterparts, and in many family-owned tourism businesses their work goes entirely unpaid, the UN report says. 

To be a force for change, IFC focuses on one of the industry segments most dependent on private capital: hotels. Financing more than 240 hotel projects over the years, we have enabled many local entrepreneurs and top international chains to enter challenging markets, where they quickly raise service and employment standards to new levels, producing ripple effects that lead others to raise the bar as well.

In 2005 Kiev was Europe’s only capital with no major international hotels, reducing arrivals from potential foreign investors demanding global chains’ high-caliber service. Our $29.5 million in long-term financing led to a new Hyatt Regency, $13 million of it mobilized fromAustria’s Erste Bank. Today more than 60 percent of the Hyatt’s 365 workers are women, earning above-market salaries and having promotion opportunities across the prestigious chain. Now the market leader, it also buys an estimated $11 million in goods and services from more than 50 different local contractors, most of whose workers are also women. 

This is our global role. Since 1998 we have been financing a local entrepreneur who brought Africa’s largest hospitality chain, South African–based Protea Hotels, to Zambia. There are now seven midmarket Protea business hotels in Zambia and 15 more planned. Five of the seven are managed by local women, and in total they have created 360 jobs, 30 percent of them filled by women.