USAID’s Tourism For All Project is helping oil-dependent Timor-Leste diversify its economy by promoting eco-friendly tourism based on the country’s rich heritage.


Mount Ramelau area (Ainaro Municipality), Atauro Island and Dili

Key Counterparts:

Ministry of Tourism, Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Ministry for Housing Development, Planning and Environment, and relevant private and non-governmental stakeholders.


January 2018 — March 2022


$9 Million  

Partner Contact:

Chemonics International  

USAID Contact:

Flavia da Silva

Project Management Specialist – Economic Growth



Facing a fragmented tourism sector, USAID’s investment promotes Timor-Leste’s vision of becoming a competitive international tourism destination while preserving the country’s unique environmental and cultural heritage. The project focuses on two main objectives to achieve that vision. The first is to ensure that institutions, policies and laws are in place to fully implement the national tourism policy launched in 2017. The second objective is to promote sustainable private sector tourism investments and participation by Timorese communities, local and international NGOs, associations, and others, and create replicable models of sustainability and best practice.

Major Achievements:

  • Organizing for Conservation: Improving conservation for future generations, USAID helped to register three tourism- based associations, including: The Tourism Partnership of Atauro on Atauro island, one of the most marine biodiverse sites in the world; Mt. Ramelau Tourism Partnership (AST-RABEKA) in Ainaro, location of Timor-Leste’s highest mountain; and the Marine Tourism Association that serves to promote best practices for conservation of all Timor-Leste’s marine resources. The Government of Timor-Leste will be increasingly responsive to the tourism industry as these associations speak through one voice.
  • Training the Next Generation of Tourism Actors: Addressing the limitations in human capital in the tourism sector, USAID delivered over 11,615 hours of training to more than 611 private and public sector participants in hospitality and tourism, food safety.  The majority of the project’s participants were female (52 percent) and under the age of 30 – helping to ensure a sustainable future and secured employment for diverse tourism industry actors.
  • COVID Pivot Keeps Tourism Alive: Due to USAID’s pivot to supporting domestic tourism during the global pandemic, many tourism-based businesses saw an uptick in tourism from Timorese travelers. The #HauNiaTimorLeste Domestic Tourism Campaign is a lifeline in otherwise extremely difficult times.
  • Connecting Timorese to Marine Resources: Working through two local SCUBA dive companies, USAID introduced 40 National University of Timor-Leste marine biology students to industry best practices in whale watching, snorkeling, discovery scuba dives, and marine conservation through multiple six-day trips to Atauro island.  USAID also trained the first ever Timorese Dive Instructor – who can now train and certify Timorese SCUBA divers in their own language-- and certified the first female Dive Master.
View of Timor-Leste hills from above.