Value chain analysis in pro-poor tourism
: towards a critical understanding of the contribution of tourism to poverty reduction

  • Jonathan Guy Buxton Mitchell

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    Each year over half a billion tourists cross an international border and visit a developing country. Can this huge movement of some of the richest people visiting some of the most economically fragile countries have a positive impact on the lives of low-income people living there?

    Addressing this question has been an enduring aim of the ‘tourism and development’ field over the past thirty years. This PhD by publication is based upon the author’s research applying value chain analysis in pro-poor tourism and the resonance of this work with academics, donors, industry and Southern governments.

    The author’s contribution was the conceptual, methodological and empirical approaches to pro-poor tourism.

    Conceptually, this involved introducing market development approaches to the ‘tourism and development’ discourse together with a more nuanced understanding of pro-poor growth in the context of private sector development.

    Methodologically, the author advanced the value chain framework – an established approach in agricultural and industrial sectors – to be applied systematically in the tourist sector for the first time. The value chain framework itself was also developed to more explicitly take account of developmental concerns. Significant effort was made to use this framework to move beyond an analysis of the current tourism value chain to provide an analytical basis to propose pro-poor change – and train others in the application of this approach.

    The author then employed this new approach to collect and analyse empirical data from diverse destinations in ten developing countries. From this analysis, some preliminary answers to the question above begun to emerge, and these findings were used to advocate for change in tourism policy and practice in economically fragile countries.

    Making full use of open source platforms to disseminate findings to a wide range of stakeholders, the author used the empirical data generated to contribute to tourism and development debates. Evidence is presented that the authors work resonated amongst diverse stakeholders, from development agencies to Southern Governments, tourism corporates and also academic researchers.

    This thesis provides an overview of my conceptual contribution to pro-poor tourism and questions the theoretical basis of critics of this approach. The methodology for measuring the impact of tourism is explained and the rationale for using tourism value chains is outlined. The question of research uptake – did any of this work have any discernible impact over the past decade – is then critically analysed.
    Date of AwardApr 2019
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • University of Brighton
    SupervisorMarina Novelli (Supervisor)

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