The Forum Network is a space for experts and thought leaders—from around the world and all parts of society— to discuss and develop solutions now and for the future. It aims to foster the fruitful exchange of expertise and perspectives across fields, and opinions expressed do not necessarily represent the views of the OECD.
Meet Estefany, a 22-year-old single mother of one fighting to support her family in a small village near Punta Cana - one of the most popular tourism resorts in the Dominican Republic. “I did not work. I had to take care of my brothers and stay at home doing household chores. When I gave birth to my son, I had to leave school because they did not accept me.” On the other side of the world, near the Sri Lankan beach resort Ahungalla, we meet Sanduni, a young woman who grew up dreaming of starting her own bakery.
Both young women come from communities that have seen an impressive growth in tourism in the past decades. Before the pandemic, the travel and tourism industry was responsible for 1 in 10 jobs worldwide, making a 10.3% contribution to global GDP and generating one in four new jobs created in the decade before the pandemic hit. For developing and emerging countries in particular the sector has proven to be an economic growth engine and a key driver of social development. Before the pandemic, tourists were generating almost 550 billion U.S. dollars on a yearly basis in these economies in comparison to the 151 billion given to these same countries in international development aid. An exemplary case is Cabo Verde. The country pursued an ambitious tourism development strategy and created a thriving tourism sector from scratch. In only a decade tourism became a key driver of the archipelago´s economy – and enabled Cabo Verde to graduate from the group of Least Developed Countries in 2007.
Tourism is an industry with comparably low formal entry barriers. And it’s an industry that allows for exciting career paths
Tourism is also a key sector both in the Dominican Republic and in Sri Lanka – and it has the unique potential to create stable livelihoods for individuals such as Estefany and Sanduni. And yet, both women were not able to participate from the thriving industry that was developing on their doorstep. One thing was missing for them: access to education - access to education that meets their individual needs.
Tourism is an industry with comparably low formal entry barriers. And it’s an industry that allows for exciting career paths: There are countless success stories of General Managers who started as porters or waiters – you will find them in every tourism destination around the world.
The TUI Academy programme of the TUI Care Foundation builds on these special employment characteristics, in hospitality and tour guiding in particular. The programme that was initiated in 2016 offers vocational training and career opportunities to young people from vulnerable communities. It combines theoretical education with on-the-job training. The professional training is complemented by extensive life skills coaching – from financial literacy, personal communication to reproductive health. The ambition of the TUI Academies is not only to train young people to become better professionals, but also to empower the young students to live a self-determined adult life - no matter what background they come from, no matter what struggles they had to fight in their past. The programme also has a special focus on encouraging young women from disadvantaged communities to enroll in the classes. There are TUI Academy programmes around the world in addition to the Dominican Republic and Sri Lanka, for example in Zanzibar, Thailand, Cabo Verde and Morocco. Each TUI Academy is uniquely caters to its destination’s needs and offers a variety of vocational qualifications.
In the Dominican Republic, the TUI Academy provides vital education and training to young people and helps them access jobs in the tourism sector. So far more than 300 young women and men have graduated from the TUI Academy Dominican Republic.
For Estefany, graduating from the TUI Academy has positively impacted her life. Despite juggling childcare, her chores and her studies, Estefany managed to complete her technical training in gastronomy and personal development skills. She also gained enough work experience to secured a job in the confectionery section of the Royalton Punta Cana hotel in the Dominican Republic. With her new income, Estefany is able to support her family. “Now I can pay for my son's school education. I can help my mother buy her medications. I can pay for my English classes and I can help my father pay for the house upkeep or buy something that is needed.”
Estefany still has many dreams and goals she wants to achieve, but now feels that she has all the tools, training and enthusiasm needed to achieve them. "In five years from now, I see myself as the chef of my own restaurant. I want to rebuild my parents' house, to give them a little bit of what they gave me.”
In Sri Lanka, Sanduni is one of 150 students currently on their way to a career in tourism. Sanduni has recently graduated from the TUI Academy and has secured a permanent position in one of the hotels that participates in the programme. Thinking about her future and her aspirations of becoming an entrepreneur in the bakery industry, she plans to join the pastry kitchen at her hotel to learn the techniques and trends in pastry preparations. During the TUI Academy programme, she learned how to become a young professional in hospitality. But most importantly, the programme inspired confidence and trust in herself – she is now prepared to realise her dreams.
As part of its commitment to fostering and nurturing skills growth in youth, TUI Care Foundation supports the OECD’s global Youthwise initiative. Learn more about Youthwise - the OECD's Youth Advisory Board!
And learn more about the trends and policies in tourism with the 2022 edition of OECD Tourism Trends and Policies, which highlights the need for co-ordinated, forward-looking policy approaches to set tourism on a path to a more resilient, sustainable and inclusive future.