2021, Report
For Equality And The Economy
Exploring The Gender Dimensions Of Timor-Leste’s Tourism Sector |

Tourism has the potential to be an important sector to drive economic growth, create jobs, and promote innovation for more sustainable development. Globally, the tourism industry employs more women than men around the world1 , and women account for 60% of employees in Accommodation and Food Services in Timor-Leste. This offers the potential for tourism investments to contribute to closing Timor-Leste’s gender gap in employment and to provide better opportunities for women entrepreneurs and women’s leadership in the industry. In 2010 and 2019, the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) conducted global studies on trends for women in tourism, in collaboration with UN Women, GIZ, the World Bank and Amadeus. The reports found that women represent the majority of the workforce, yet are over-represented in service and clerical level jobs, while representing an estimated 25% at the decision-making levels2 . Women make up a higher proportion of self-employed workers across sectors, but in tourism, this percentage varies across countries, highlighting factors that may contribute or limit women’s entrepreneurship in tourism. Furthermore, women perform significant amounts of unpaid work as part of family tourism businesses. Despite these drawbacks, sustainable tourism has been shown to provide significant opportunities for women’s advancement through formal and informal employment and enterprise development.

Organisations: UN Women


2021, Report
ATAÚRO ISLAND: Sustainable Management Plan

Ataúro Island is Timor-Leste’s largest island and has been recognized by the Government of Timor- Leste (GoTL) as a critical area for marine and terrestrial biodiversity. The island hosts a population of more than 11,000 people, distributed across five villages (suco), with livelihoods dominated by a reliance on natural resources and ecosystem services (for agriculture, raising livestock and fishing). In 2019, in response to an increasing number of tourists drawn to visit the island for its stunning landscape and exceptional natural beauty, an “Ataúro Island Sustainable Tourism Strategy” was produced with support from the USAID Tourism For All Project. To complement this tourism strategy, the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (MAF) identified the need for a Sustainable Management Plan (SMP) for the area, to support and guide the sustainable development of the island, and the communities that depend upon its resources, over the coming five years (2021-2025).

2020, Report
The Asia Foundation publishes report on the outlook for aviation and the tourism industry in Timor-Leste, in light of the COVID-19 crisis

Situated on the southeastern periphery of Southeast Asia and endowed with unspoiled and exquisite natural attractions, Timor-Leste is a magnet for adventuresome tourists. Leisure travelers injected roughly 23.2 million much-needed dollars into the country’s economy in 2019, and success in capturing a larger share of Southeast Asia’s robust tourism market would make a significant contribution to the nation’s development.
Tourism is relatively labor intensive, and with the right mix of products, services, and supporting infrastructure it could bring widespread economic benefits and create jobs for a burgeoning youth population. The National Tourism Policy has a stated goal of 200,000 tourist visits per year by 2030, which would energize the petroleum-dependent economy, but the harsh reality is that costly airfares, poor connectivity, and inadequate airports have kept this goal out of reach.

With the emergence of the Covid-19 pandemic, aviation operations have now been reduced to relief flights to repatriate citizens, emergency medical flights, and deliveries of urgently needed medical supplies. The resulting financial impact throughout the aviation industry has been severe.

Healthy airlines are particularly dependent on reliable cash flow. The International Civil Aviation Organization estimates that the world’s airlines have lost 213 to 257 billion dollars in income since the beginning of the crisis. The general picture is that some airlines have already gone out of business, while others are being restructured or just holding on by a thread. Staff have been laid off, fleets have been pruned, aircraft orders have been cancelled, and less profitable routes are being eliminated.

The airlines that emerge from the global crisis will be smaller and will be focused on survival in a weak market environment, and this, of course, includes operators that directly or indirectly serve Timor-Leste. Timor-Leste is a small market on the periphery of the networks of foreign airlines, and if it is to win a place when air service is restored, it must show operators an attractive value proposition that fits with their scaled-back plans.

A forthcoming analysis by The Asia Foundation, Covid-19 and the Alignment of Timor-Leste’s Aviation and Tourism Strategies, argues that Timor-Leste must seek bilateral or regional travel agreements with like-minded countries that have achieved similar success in controlling the virus and have the capability to manage future outbreaks. With just 30 recorded cases, Timor-Leste is among the most successful countries in dealing with the pandemic, positioning it to offer itself as a partner in a “travel bubble.” Australia, for example, is a low-risk country that accounted for almost 48 percent of inbound travelers to Timor-Leste in 2019. The business communities in Australia and New Zealand have been working with airlines and aviation authorities to reopen travel between the two countries as part of a “Pacific travel bubble” that could be extended to other Pacific island nations. The Cook Islands and Fiji have been monitoring the progress of this Pacific travel bubble, and Timor-Leste would do well to start making preparations for such an arrangement. (Click on this link to read complete article:

Click on this link to read the report in full: https://asiafoundation.org/publication/covid-19-and-the-alignment-of-timor-lestes-aviation-and-tourism-strategies/ )

(Source: The Asia Foundation’s Gobie Rajalingam with Paul Hooper)

Organisations: The Asia Foundation

Authors: The Asia Foundation’s Gobie Rajalingam with Paul Hooper

2020, Report
Australia/Timor-Leste Tourism Market Analysis

Tourism is relatively a new sector for Timor-Leste. In 2018, the total number of tourist arrivals in the country was less than 11,000. Australia is currently the main source market for tourists to Timor-Leste. Despite Australia’s closeness, Timor-Leste has not been able to realise the potential of the Australian tourist market. There is a lack of understanding of how Australians travel, especially to similarly remote Asia and Pacific destinations like Timor-Leste, which limits how well Timor-Leste can competitively promote itself to the Australian market. So, Market Development Facility (MDF) in Timor-Leste commissioned a tourism market analysis with a focus on the Australian market.
The analysis focused on who might be most interested in visiting Timor-Leste, their interests, and how best to make them aware of what Timor-Leste has to offer. A consumer and trade market research was conducted to identify ‘most likely’ target segments and activate a Marketing Action Plan to benefit the local tourism industry. The profile of current Australian visitors includes Darwin, which is the largest source market, accounting for one in four (25%) Australian holidaymakers. ‘Going to the beach’ was the most popular activity planned by Darwin visitors, while ‘Cultural experiences’ ranked highest for Melbournians. Visitors who came to dive were great advocates for Timor-Leste; 97% would recommend the destination to friends and family (TAF’s 2018 Survey of Travellers to Timor-Leste). The report terms the target audience as ‘Timor-Leste intenders’, a custom segment created by matching the location and socioeconomic status of respondents to the Prospective Visitor Survey, conducted in February 2020, to RDA’s geoTribes socioeconomic segments. Based on the research, a ‘Timor Leste intender’ audience was defined as the summation of the Crusaders and Independents geoTribes segments. They fall under the age group 25 to 34, young professionals, career-oriented, singles or couples. This segment is heavy internet users that are also big on social media, but less likely to be attracted by mass media.
Interviews were held with more than 20 travel agents and operators in Australia. Almost all of them were keen to know more and promote Timor-Leste. The reason they don’t promote Timor-Leste is that they do not have any information and that is why it is not very popular among tourists.
There were some interesting responses when the Australians were asked what they think about Timor-Leste. Some of the words used for Timor-Leste were “uncrowded, beautiful people, stunning scenery, interesting local culture and a new exciting, not very touristy destination.” Generally, all trade partners interviewed were keen to obtain more information about Timor-Leste, to be kept updated and were interested for any trade family opportunities, especially those who have never visited before. A common feedback comment received from tourists when they returned from Timor-Leste was that they were “very surprised” by the destination – how beautiful the country is and how lovely people and culture are.
Overall key selling points include; amazing diversity of stunning scenery, pristine marine life, untouched and authentic, interesting history, and a “new” off the beaten track destination.
There were some interesting highlights from the analysis:
• 1.61 million Australians would like to visit Timor-Leste.
• The agents in Australia that have not sold Timor-Leste, generally have no knowledge about Timor-Leste or what it offers its visitors.
• Trade-ready program is vital to support the local industry to develop skills and Australian products.
• Perceived dangers of war and unrest are top of mind for a small, yet significant proportion of potential visitors.
• Timor-Leste intenders are heavy internet users. Thus, social media and marketing plans should be focused on exciting, educating, and engaging content for this market.

MDF has now presented the findings to tourism sector stakeholders. Timorese tourism stakeholders will benefit from a better knowledge of what experience Australian tourists want and how to influence their decision-making. It is also important to understand the priorities and incentives of tourism businesses in Australia to promote Timor-Leste, and to identify potential partnerships for tourism recovery and Timorese organisations that could help boost tourist inflows from Australia.

While the damaging consequences of COVID-19 on global tourism were not foreseen, the timing of this project provided an opportunity to plan a unique schedule of marketing actions. The focus now should be on growing the local industry’s trade contacts, what Timor-Leste has to offer and the capacity building in preparation for mainstream marketing actions when travelling restrictions ease ‘Post-COVID’.

As part of the next steps, a working group with industry representatives and the Government of Timor-Leste will be created who will work with partners in Australia to implement a set of marketing activities focused on trade relationships. When Timor-Leste is ready to welcome tourists again, this information will be vital to attracting more tourists and for the recovery of the tourism sector. You can find a summary of the findings on MDF’s website: https://marketdevelopmentfacility.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/Timor-Leste-Australian-Market-Summary-2020.pdf

Market Development Facility
Market Development Facility is an Australian Government-funded multi-country initiative which promotes sustainable economic development, through higher incomes for women and men, in our partner countries. It is implemented by Palladium in partnership with Swisscontact. MDF’s two priority sectors in Timor-Leste are agriculture and tourism, with some activities in other sectors such as manufacturing. MDF is working with a range of businesses and other organisations to grow tourism in Timor-Leste, especially through ideas related to destination marketing. This includes dive operators, the hotel owners association, tour operators, and the Ministry of Tourism.

Organisations: Market Development Facility

Authors: Market Development Facility

2019, Report
Indonesia Market Assessment Of Potential For Faith-Based Tourism In Timor-Leste
A Study of Indonesian Niche Source Market Potential |

As a predominantly Catholic country, Timor-Leste has a unique opportunity to develop faith-based tourism that is inclusive of all religions in Timor-Leste (e.g. Hindu, Muslim, Catholic, Protestant, Confucious). There is an entire industry catering to faith-based travel, tourism and hospitality that includes people embarking on individual or group pilgrimages or missionary travel as well as religion-based cruises, fellowship vacations, crusades, rallies, retreats and visiting iconic faith-based tourist attractions across the globe. For example, it is estimated that as much as seven percent (160 million) of the world’s Christian population (2.2 billion) are on the move as pilgrims each year.

Organisations: Chemonics International


2019, Film
Sa’e Bua – Betel Nut Festival in Atauro

Every year in the month of July, people from five villages on the island of Atauro gather for a one-day betel nut harvest festival. At the heart of the event is a traditional ceremony to reaffirm peaceful relations between communities. The betel nut harvesters are extremely skilled: the areca palms are very tall and sway perilously in the wind. Once the crop has been brought down, the crowd samples the nuts and celebrates late into the night. Tourists are welcome.

Organisations: USAID’s Tourism For All Project

Authors: USAID’s Tourism For All Project/Ann Turner

2020, Report
Ataúro Island Sustainable Tourism Strategy – 2030
A shared vision to grow an inclusive tourism industry while protecting the island’s natural and cultural resources |

The purpose of the Sustainable Tourism Strategy is to define, through a consensus- oriented process, a road map for enhancing the competitiveness of Ataúro Island’s tourism industry that will ensure the sustainability of the island’s cultural and natural assets. The intent of the plan is to maximize and spread the benefits of tourism development throughout the island and to local communities.

Organisations: USAID’s Tourism For All Project


2020, Report
Proactive Plan For The After-Corona Era |

This concept paper presents a strategic crisis-action plan for Timor-Leste’s tourism sector to counter the impacts of COVID-19 and prepared for a new era in travel. It is presented in five sections, including: the pandemic crisis and its impact on international tourism; best practice examples of how destinations across the globe are managing the dynamics of the crisis and planning for a new era of travel; anecdotal stories of how the current State of Emergency instigated by the health crisis is affecting tourism stakeholders in Timor-Leste and a summary of a COVID-19 Tourism Impact Survey conducted by the USAID’s Tourism For All Project; a recommended Timor-Leste Tourism Reboot Initiative (TLTRI); and an outline of assistance that USAID’s Tourism For All Project will provide to help navigate the uncertain times is provided.

Organisations: USAID’s Tourism For All Project


2006, Business Registration
DECREE-LAW N° 07 /2006 |

The commitment made by the Government to achieve the national development goals has led to the preparation and approval of a set of laws that are especially relevant to the business sector, the most prominent of which are the Law on Trading Companies, the Law on National and Foreign Investment, the Regime for Insurers, the Regime for Cooperatives, and the laws on the oil and mineral resources sector, among others.

Organisations: Government of Timor Leste


2015, Research Papers
Considerations for marketing Timor-Leste as a tourist destination

This paper has discussed the four core destination attributes of Timor-Leste and the implications for promoting these assets for tourism. While each attribute provides an important angle for tourism marketing, the risks and implications of each must be considered alongside the advantages. The paper has argued that Timor-Leste’s image is negatively impacted by past violence and that its true situation, as a beautiful and peaceful nation, is still little known.

Organisations: Unknown

Authors: Sara Currie