Big banks, big pharma and now, big travel?
A child hams it up at Ankor Wat in Cambodia. The ruins attract millions of tourists every year.
June 20th, 2013
08:51 AM ET

Big banks, big pharma and now, big travel?

By Emma Lacey-Bordeaux, CNN

Follow on Twitter: @CNNEmma

Editor's Note: Listen to the full story in our player above, and join the conversation in our comments section below.

(CNN) - Elizabeth Becker's latest book was in part, born out of frustration. The seasoned journalist, who got her start as a war correspondent, began to notice a growing global economic force; a sector of the global economy changing whole societies and ecosystems but one relegated to the lifestyle section of most major papers.

So she decided to write a book about it and give it the attention it deserves:

[1:19] "My new book is Overbooked: The Exploding Business of Travel and Tourism," she says.

[1:04] "It is the largest employer on the globe, it employs one out of every twelve people."

One billion people travel abroad every year, spending around $6.7 trillion.

[2:55] "Tourism has become the second most important industry, second only to energy, for poor countries trying to improve their economies," she says.

But there are pitfalls. Becker traveled to Cambodia, a country that in the 1990s opted to utilize tourism to help boost its war weary economy. They've been successful at attracting dollars: Tourism revenues make up about 20 percent of their GDP, but the money does not always go where it needs to go

[4:06] "It's a kind of tourism that helps the elite, helps foreign countries but doesn't help the poor."

Becker details other issues like environmental damage and sexual exploitation of minors, issues that local officials downplayed.

Of course, Cambodia is far from the only country grappling with these issues. That's another reason Becker wrote this book: she hopes policymakers the world over will take tourism seriously and create an industry that enriches tourists and locals alike.

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