Tourism Development in Timor-Leste

For 24 years the people of Timor-Leste fought hard  to achieve their goal of independence. As a newly developing country Timor-Leste continues to face  big challenges :

  • More than half the population is under the age of 19
  • Over 85% of  Timor-Leste’s government income comes from oil and gas and reserves are limited.
  •  It is one of the poorest countries in the world

In 2009, in  response to these challenges,  we began exploring the potential of tourism to provide sustainable economic outcomes for Timor-Leste. We established a social enterprise call Timor Adventures, a small tourism company.

At the heart of Timor Adventures is our deep and personal  commitment to the rights of the people of Timor-Leste to participate and benefit equally in all aspects of life.  We see it as our responsibility to operate our business, Timor Adventures, in a way that:

  • distributes and shares the economic benefits of tourism activities to the people of Timor-Leste
  • empowers the communities we work with with and provides them with control and choice of how and if they participate in tourism activities
  • respects and conserves Timorese culture
  • engages tourists with meaningful cultural experiences
  • maintains and conserves Timor’s natural environment by treading lightly and  participating in environmentally sustainable activities.

Timor Adventures is in a unique position to be able to share our learnings with others  who are also committed to sustainable economic development for Timor-Leste,

Tourism for development

Our approach to tourism has been shaped by and informed our understanding of the role tourism can play in sustainable development.

Progressing the concept of  tourism for development in Timor-Leste  has proved to be a  long, complex and highly rewarding journey. The knowledge and hands on experience gained through  Timor Adventures has taught us a great deal.

Timor-Adventures  has substantial  practical experience of delivering tourism in Timor-Leste

  • providing small group, community and cultural, study, motorcycle and customised tours
  • training tour guides, drivers and motorcycle tour guides
  • assisting local communities to develop their destinations

Based on this breadth of practical experience and informed by the broader context of international development, Timor-Adventures has  developed a theoretical framework to inform our practice: tourism for development framework.

We continue to refine our ideas and thinking, learning by doing. We are keen to share our knowledge and work with others who are genuinely interested in sustainable economic outcomes through tourism. If you have any questions please contact us

David & Shirley Carlos