GVC lens can inform responses to bolster tourism industry in developing countries

Stacey Frederick and Jack Daly look at the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the tourism industry in developing countries and provide insights from global value chain (GVC) analysis as in this op-ed for Trade and Development News managed by the Enhanced Integrated Framework (EIF).

St. Lucia in the Cruise Tourism Global Value Chain

While cruise tourism remains a small niche within the broader tourism industry—its 24 million passengers constitute just 2% of worldwide travelers—it is a critical economic activity in the Caribbean. More than two-thirds of the tourists in the region are cruise-ship passengers. Although cruise ship tourism is not as lucrative as other forms—tourists on cruise ships spend as little as one-tenth the consumption of stay-over visitors—it still accounts for an aggregated US$3.1 billion in expenditures in 2014-15 and supported roughly 75,000 jobs. St. Lucia conforms to this regional trend. Cruise tourism has a large footprint on the island, contributing 63% of the 1.05 million tourists who traveled to the island in 2017. Although there has been some fluctuation, the number of cruise arrivals has trended higher in more recent years. Nonetheless, there are still some weaknesses in the sector, most immediately the low impressions of St. Lucia’s cruise tourism products as well as the lack of strategic agenda. This report identifies some of the most prominent constraints and outlines potential upgrading strategies to boost passenger expenditures.

Jamaica in the Tourism Global Value Chain

Tourism is a dynamic source of economic growth throughout the world. The industry’s direct effect to global GDP was higher than many other sectors, including agriculture, manufacturing, retail and financial services. The vitality of the industry is not confined to any one region; while Europe remains the most visited continent in the world, while Asia Pacific and African nations had the highest growth rates in visitors over the decade from 2006-2015. Tourism is the most important economic activity in Jamaica, as it is for most of the Caribbean region. The country’s beaches attract thousands of tourists each year. As a result, Jamaica’s tourism sector is strongly focused on that segment, which accounts for close to 90% of arrivals. Jamaica is the fourth largest destination in the Caribbean with over 2 million visitors annually after Dominican Republic, Cuba and Puerto Rico. This report uses the global value chain framework to map Jamaica’s current participation in the tourism industry and identify ways to increase SMEs participation in the industry.


Research using the GVC framework to study economic development opportunities in the tourism industry.

Barbados in the Cruise Tourism Global Value Chain

This report uses the Duke Global Value Chain (GVCC) framework to examine Barbados’ position in the cruise tourism global value chain (GVC) and identify opportunities for small businesses within the sector. While cruise tourism remains a small niche within the broader tourism industry—its 24 million passengers constitute just 2% of worldwide travelers—it is a critical economic activity in the Caribbean. Barbados conforms to this regional trend, contributing 54% of the 1.3 million tourists who visited the country in 2015. While the total number of cruise passengers arriving in the Bridgetown port has increased in recent years, the average amount of money they are spending is declining. This report identifies some of constraints associated with Barbados’ cruise tourism products and outlines potential upgrading strategies to boost passenger expenditures. The rise in demand for premium products in the alcoholic spirits industry is creating new opportunities for producing nations to increase their participation in the global market. Barbados, the birthplace of rum, is currently poised to capitalize on this shift towards premium and authentic spirits. However, it must first address several issues in the industry, including the sourcing of necessary inputs and the development of a national brand. This report examines the potential for Barbados to increase its participation in the industry using the global value chain framework. Nation News published an article entitled, Upgrade cruise, rum sectors in Barbados, related to the findings of the report on January 28, 2018.

Primates and Beyond: Tourism Value Chains in East Africa

Tourism is an important economic driver in Africa. East African Community countries such as Kenya and Tanzania have long been popular safari destinations, with Rwanda and Uganda serving as stops as part of the “Gorilla Express”. As both countries look to diversify their appeal, value chain analysis can provide insight into how domestic businesses can connect with global actors to facilitate upgrading.

Regional Value Chains in East Africa: Summary Report

Despite recent regional improvements in poverty reduction and economic growth rates in East Africa, firm productivity in the region remains low. This contrast creates uncertainty about whether the recent successes will persist without improvements in regional networks of production and trade. In partnership with the IGC, the Duke research team used the GVC framework to investigate the opportunities for and constraints to regional integration in three key sectors: dairy processing, maize production, and tourism.

Global Value Chains, Economic Upgrading and Gender: Case Studies of the Horticulture, Tourism, and Call Center Industries

This book provides an analysis of the horticulture, tourism, and call center global value chains (GVCs) based on a survey of the literature and case studies carried out in Honduras (horticulture), Kenya (tourism), and Egypt (call centers). The studies show that GVCs and their upgrading dynamics have important gender dimensions, and that integration and upgrading are influenced by, and have an impact on, gender relations.

Skills for Upgrading: Workforce Development and Global Value Chains in Developing Countries

This research project examines workforce development strategies in developing countries in the context of the shifting upgrading dynamics of global value chains. This research provides policymakers, donors and development practitioners with an understanding of how workforce development strategies can enhance the upgrading efforts and competitiveness of developing countries in global industries. This project was funded by RTI International and was carried out by the Duke GVC Center.

The Tourism Global Value Chain: Economic Upgrading and Workforce Development: Chapter 5

Global tourists are traveling further, faster and more frequently than ever before. This report indicates how developing countries can prepare their tourism workforce to provide the high levels of customer service expected by today’s sophisticated traveler. The tourism industry in Costa Rica, Jordan, and Vietnam are covered in this report.