Access to finance, new technologies, marketing skills and the empowerment of women entrepreneurs are identified in a new APEC report as essential for the development and success of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in the tourism industry.
The Development Needs of Small to Medium Size Tourism Businesses' report has been compiled by the APEC International Centre for Sustainable Tourism (AICST) in conjunction with a number of universities, small business owners and governments in the APEC Region.
The report, which is being released today, is available at the APEC Secretariat Website.
AICST Executive Director, Mr. Ian Kean, said the report identifies efforts underway in each of APEC's 21 Member Economies to deal with the development of tourism SMEs.
"Small business is the heart and soul of the tourism industry but often due to size they lack access to many of the resources and opportunities that larger businesses take for granted," Mr. Kean said.
"Usually operating with informal business structures, a small number of staff and limited options for external finance, SMEs are repeatedly left to learn the 'hard way' in business.
"While high self-motivation enables many SMEs to overcome obstacles, this report identifies a number of difficulties that require coordinated strategies from governments and business owners themselves.
"Fortunately there are many government initiatives and programs from local industry groups that are working to meet these needs. It is now a question of encouraging SMEs to take advantage of available resources.
Mr. Kean said the report also highlights the growing role of women entrepreneurs in the tourism industry, but warns greater effort is needed in some regions to fully expand the opportunities for women business operators.
"Looking around the regional economy, in both industrialized and developing economies, there are examples where women are not able to participate fully in local business," Mr. Kean said.
"This is due to barriers including low wages, and a lack of access to capital, skills training, market facilities and new technology.
"Women entrepreneurs are of particular interest to this study with research demonstrating their superior efficacy in business and the growing importance of women entrepreneurs in many economies."
As well as general analysis of each of APEC's 21 Member Economies, the report also contains in-depth results from a series of parallel studies carried out in Australia, Chinese Taipei, Mexico and Thailand that examine the tourism business development needs of small businesses.
AICST was established by APEC Tourism Working Group and Tourism Ministers to identify and research the major issues likely to impact on tourism in the APEC Region over the next 10 to 15 years. AICST is a cooperative of APEC Member Economies, universities and representatives of the tourism industry.