Tourism comes with many hidden costs that can have negative economic effects on the host communities. The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) finds that “often rich countries are better able to profit from tourism than poor ones. Whereas the least developed countries have the most urgent need for income, employment and general rise of the standard of living by means of tourism, they are least able to realize these benefits. Among the reasons for this are large-scale transfer of tourism revenues out of the host country and exclusion of local businesses and products”.
UNEP explains that “the direct income for an area is the amount of tourist expenditure that remains locally after taxes, profits, and wages are paid outside the area and after imports are purchased; these subtracted amounts are called leakage”. It is estimated that “in most all-inclusive package tours, about 80% of travelers’ expenditures go to the airlines, hotels and other international companies (who often have their headquarters in the travelers’ home countries), and not to local businesses or workers. In addition, significant amounts of income actually retained at destination level can leave again through leakage.”
“Of each US$ 100 spent on a vacation tour by a tourist from a developed country,
only around US$ 5 actually stays in a developing-country destination’s economy.”
The 2014 UNWTO Global Report on Adventure Tourism indicates that “Adventure tourism attracts high value customers: Adventure tourists are willing to pay a premium for exciting and authentic experiences. Adventure operators have reported an average of US$ 3,000 spent per person, with an average trip length of eight days”. According to ATTA’s Industry Snapshot 2014 (cited in UNWTO, 2014), the polled adventure tour operators estimated “that 65.6% of the total trip cost from an adventure package remains in the destination(s) visited”. The UNWTO concludes that adventure tourism supports local economies.