Much of the money that tourists spend when they go on a holiday does not go to the destination country or community. I just found out that this phenomenon is called leakage. The tourist's money goes to the travel agent who sold the trip, the airline which carried him/her to the destination, the investors who built the facility where he/she stays (usually not a resident of the destination country), food that is imported into the destination, operating costs and, finally the employees. Except for the payments to employees most of this money leaks away out of the destination's country and community. I've seen estimates of leakage from 30% to 95%. Even when money goes to the destination's country a lot of it does not go to the local community leaving the community just as poor as it was before the tourist destination was built and sometimes poorer.
Most of the estimates of leakage seem to be sheer guesses which will be high when a social activist does the guessing and low when it is by an industry supporter. Has anybody seen calculations of leakage based on solid economic data rather than estimates?
Two forms of leakage that could be remedied by practicing sustainable tourism management are food importation and management by foreigners (there are others). Tourist facilities import food when the nearby communities cannot provide a reliable supply of safe food of types that tourists prefer. In many cases trained farmers and agronomists can remedy this situation by using modern sustainable farming methods. Are any members of this group aware of training programs for local farmers possibly supported by the destination country, grants from donor countries and/or private foundations or the travel companies?
The other form of leakage is the use of management personnel from the facility owner's home country rather than the destination country. Local residents are frequently hired by tourist facilities only for the most menial, lowest paying jobs. The frequently can't qualify for management level positions with higher pay because of their lack of a higher level of education and also a lack of skills in the languages of the tourists. Here again, do members of the group know of tourism management and language training programs that would help local residents rise above the poverty of their communities?
There are a lot of so-called sustainable tourism companies that try to return more of the tourists' money to local communities but the ones I've read about are small, providing holidays for maybe a few thousand people a year. They may have good intentions but they are probably too small to make more than a dent in the poverty of the destinations they deal with. What is needed is programs that go beyond the capabilities of the cadre of small sustainable tour companies. Are there any good ones out there that are successfully helping communities prosper from the rich tourists in their midsts?