Countries / Territories

National Tourism Export Strategies

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    Tourism is trade; tourism is export. ITC and UNWTO have joined forces, bringing together a rich combination of expertise, to design stategies that leverage tourism to raise socio-economic growth and foreign exhange earnings.

    Many countries have export strategies and tourism policy frameworks in place, but few tackle tourism as an export sector. A National Tourism Export Strategy (NTES) provides a blueprint for the development and competitiveness of tourism as an export sector.

    National Tourism Export Strategies

    Tourism is trade. It involves the buying and selling of services and goods, with compensation paid by a buyer (the visitor) to a seller. Tourism is an export sector. It is a source of foreign exchange earnings; it grows a country’s national output; it is subject to the rigours of the international marketplace. As such, tourism can be used as a means of generating employment, increasing government revenue, and raising standards of living.

    ITC and the UNWTO have developed a unique approach and state-of-the-art methodology to design, manage and implement NTES. A NTES strengthens the links between export development and socio-economic growth to achieve SDG Goal 8.

    Fundamental concepts

    1. Competitiveness in tourism happens by design

    An effective NTES enables policy-makers, tourism and investment support institutions, and enterprises to make key decision-points and establish priorities that ensure long-term tourism sustainability and enhanced economic and social benefits.

    2. The tourism sector is diverse and broad. A relevant strategy must have a comprehensive scope.

    A tourism strategy must address the conditions that determine the attractiveness of the destination, the sectors of the economy which are inherent to tourism offer, the sectors of the economy which benefit directly or indirectly, and the functions that provide support to the operators in the industry to become more competitive.

    3. Tourism engages a wide network of public and private sector institutions, businesses and civil society at large

    A truly national tourism export strategy requires mechanisms that facilitate a multi-stakeholder decision-making platform, enabling inter-ministerial, public-private, and civil society consultation and coordination in its design and implementation.

    4. Sustainable development underpins success in tourism

    Sustainability in its three dimensions – economic, social, and environmental – should be a key ingredient in the pursuit of growing the tourism sector. Unless tourism is sustainably managed, it can stimulate undesirable development, social disruption, loss of cultural heritage, and environmental damage.


    The ITC-UNWTO approach

    The ITC and UNWTO have developed NTES by combining their expertise on strategy-design, knowledge of the sector, and access to data and networks. The approach developed by both institutions is founded on the following values:

    • Ensuring that tourism is balanced with broader economic, social and environmental objectives
    • Improving the management and development of the tourism sector by ensuring coordination and cooperation between authorities
    • Increasing the long-term positive impacts of tourism projects by involving all primary stakeholders
    • Conserving the natural and cultural environment, enhancing the quality of the visitor experience, and providing benefits to the local communities
    • Supporting implementation of sustainable tourism through an effective legislative reform

    ITC-UNWTO strategies have the following objectives:



    A comprehensive scope

    Tourism provides huge potential for growth for developing countries. Yet, success in tourism development depends on an array of considerations, addressing both related and unrelated sectors. It also involves a wide range of stakeholders from the public and private sectors institutions and civil society alike. This integrated approach leads to comprehensive diagnostics and responses. Similar to export strategies for other traded goods and services, a relevant tourism strategy broadly requires:

    • An understanding of the performance of the sector and its potential;
    • An understanding of the 'product' and options for diversification;
    • An understanding of the market and options for diversification;
    • An assessment of strengths and weaknesses vis-à-vis competitors;
    • Prioritization of sub-sectors (and key projects within those sectors) and client segments;
    • The identification of strategic priorities;
    • Options for value acquisition, retention, addition, creation, distribution;
    • Prioritization of support services for the tourism business community;
    • A detailed series of actions that are implemented; and
    • Coordination of implementation management structures and systems.

    The NTES will consider:


    1. Tourism determining conditions: functions or facilities that determine the overall attractiveness of the destination to potential visitors. For example: transport, natural environment, connectivity, and safety.

    2. Tourism industries: those industries which are inherent to the tourism offer. For example: accommodation, transport, food services, and cultural, recreational and sports activities.

    3. Tourism-supplying sectors: those sectors which do no represent a primary motivation for visits, but which benefit from tourism. For example: agriculture, construction, and furniture.

    4. Tourism support functions: functions that provide support to the operators in the industry to become more competitive. For example: marketing, quality management, education, innovation, and ICT.

    5. Sustainability and development: Developing the tourism sector is not an end in itself. It is a means of achieving equitable socio-economic growth. Tourism can contribute to poverty reduction and employment generation; inclusion of disadvantaged groups; regional development; and environmental sustainability and adoption of green-technologies.


    NTES adopts the established NES approach and principles which have been applied in over 70 countries.

    The outputs: a master strategic framework and plan, plus individual strategies for each priority sub-sector and tourism support function.

    If you would like to learn more, please contact us.



    Enquiries should be directed to:

    Anton Said

    Chief, Trade Development Strategies Programme
    +41 (0)22 730-0588

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