Esmond Devas (1941-2001)

Esmond Devas sadly lost his battle against cancer in October 2001.

On this page you can read about his life and work in his own words…

Comment by Esmond Devas

In exercising a Webmaster’s privilege and giving myself space on this site, I have kept the focus on my professional career as an engineer and economist, which spanned the period 1964 to 2000 when I retired through ill health. To the standard London dinner party question what do I do for a living ?, or did I do, I have always been short of a snappy answer, and my CV set out below will demonstrate to anybody who cares to plough through it why this is the case. Unlike many people, I never had a career plan, and bumbled happily along taking more or less the next job I was offered, particularly tempted by anything that involved different technical challenges to those I had already faced, with a weather eye always on the money, bearing in mind that until I went to the Caribbean in 1980, the family was often very short of cash.


with team members in Montserrat pre- volcano, 1993

Although some of my friends were so baffled by the improbable mix of my work as to be convinced that I worked for the security services, there were of course some consistent factors responsible for the variety that I was offered, namely a) a flexible facility with numbers and their analysis and manipulation which got me into mathematical modelling of industrial situations in the early years on leaving LSE and later often resulted in work as a numbers man on larger team projects doing everything from demographic forecasts to household surveys, b) a knowledge of medical systems and computing that started when I was hired in the early 1970s on a freelance basis by the DHSS as part of a 30 strong team working on a mathematical model of the National Health Service ( no less !)- I was put on to the mental illness component- c) an intimate knowledge of the international travel industry into which I strayed by chance, but where I later acquired a great deal of practical experience and in the end became a considerable expert in handling its impacts on developing countries and finally d) a fluent, but not perfect, command of the French language as a result of my time at the Lycée in London, which got me jobs in many French speaking countries, initially for a year in Algeria around 1969, later in the Lebanon and French West Africa.

Not having had a regular salaried job since around 1971, nearly all my work was undertaken on a jobbing basis, working with a huge variety of different clients, sometimes as a sub contractor, sometimes as a principal, and CVs have been my professional calling card, just as they are for others in my position. These are freely used ( and often rewritten and abused) as parts of competing proposals for jobs subject to tender
Below is reproduced my professional CV, pretty much as presented during my year of retirement 2000, but with some pics thrown in to lighten an otherwise tedious document of record. I had at the time of my retirement been working exclusively for some 10 years in the tourism industry, so my CV as circulated suppressed quite a lot of material which was incompatible with that positioning. The missing information, mainly relating to my parallel interest in medical computing and mathematical modelling, has been reintroduced so that it now represents a fairly complete time record of my professional life.

My commercial web site (Tourism Planning and Research Associates), includes a range of archive material relating to my professional work such as reports and evaluations I wrote, and these can be downloaded

Summary information

Esmond Devas has a postgraduate Master’s degree from the London School of Economics, and more than 20 years’ experience as a tourism economist. His principle professional skills are in economic and market analysis, and he also has acquired much practical experience in survey design and execution. He brings to his work with the tourism industry an unusually high level of computing experience, having worked extensively in mathematical modelling, and being one of the founders of a UK computer systems house.

He has been a team leader and member of multidisciplinary teams carrying out major assignments in most parts of the world and organisations for whom he has undertaken assignments include Governments, Tourist Boards, development organisations, and private companies.

He is also the author of a number of regularly published market research studies on key tourist generating markets, including The European Tourist, now into its 9th Edition.

Summary of UK experience

Early experience in the UK included a wide range of industrial studies involving mathematical modelling, with particular experience in the health sector. More recently, he has been engaged in demand studies associated with the possible development of a 5th terminal at Heathrow airport, an investment study related to a Millennium project in Glasgow, post project evaluations for the English Tourist Board, and feasibility studies for the London Borough of Greenwich related to the Millennium Dome.

Summary of Caribbean experience

Over the period 1980 to 1983 Esmond Devas was based in the Caribbean at CTRC (now CTO) in Barbados as the World Tourism Organisation’s regional Adviser, and during that period worked extensively throughout the region undertaking visitor surveys, economic impact studies, and policy studies. This interest in the region has been maintained, with close involvement in the design and evaluation of many of the EC’s regional programmes. He has worked in most countries in the Caribbean, as well as in Venezuela, Costa Rica and Brazil. Recent work has included cost benefit studies associated with coastal conservation in Barbados (IADB 1992), eco tourism development in Dominica (CDB, 1993), evaluation of the Netherlands Antilles tourism development plan ( EC, 1994), and tourism policy and marketing plan studies in St Kitts & Nevis in 1995. Tourism Master Plans for Saba and for Bonaire were undertaken in 1996. In 1997, he participated in a Comsec funded study of investment opportunities in tourism in the Caribbean. During 1998 and 1999 he participated in a master planning study for tourism in Jamaica, as well as writing a report of the impact of EU and other European regulations and legislation on Caribbean suppliers in the tourist industry. In 2000, he completed a study of the French tourism mrket for the Caribbean Tourism Organisation, complementing one for the UK tourist market undertaken 1998.

Summary of African experience

His experience in Africa began with a year spent in Algeria developing production control systems for the nationalised spaghetti and couscous industries back in 1969. Subsequently, work in North Africa has included market studies in Tunisia, Morocco, and again in Algeria. In East Africa he undertook hotel feasibility studies in Tanzania for the Capital Development Authority in Dodoma, and market research on the Kenyan safari market. In West Africa he was leader of a multidisciplinary team drawing up development plans for the Casamance area in the South of Senegal, and has also worked in Gambia and Nigeria on market development studies. He has undertaken market research in South Africa of tourism demand for travel to the island of St Helena (1965). Most recently (1999), he has completed a series of European marketing studies for the Government of Zambia, and put together a European marketing plan for Zambia largely based on the Internet.

Summary of Middle East experience

Esmond Devas was a member of the World Bank funded team that drew up a plan for the development of the region’s tourism subsequent to the 1967 war, at which time he made an extensive field trip covering Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Iraq, Kuwait and Egypt. Subsequently, he was chief economist for the Abu Dhabi tourism master plan, and also worked in Iraq, Dubai, Kuwait and Bahrein. Later he spent 6 months in Saudi Arabia drawing up plans for tourism developments in the Abha region targeted at the domestic market.

He drew up in 1993, on behalf of Bechtel Inc working with the Ministry for Reconstruction and Development, an action plan for the regeneration of the Lebanese tourist industry. He also worked with a World Bank mission to Jordan, in connection with the appraisal of a major tourism infrastructure project there (1996) and most recently, he has been working in Egypt on another World Bank funded study, this time on coastal zone management and sustainabale tourism in the Red Sea area (1997).

Summary of South Asia, Indian Ocean and Pacific experience

In 1972, Esmond Devas spent three months in Afghanistan, engaged in tourism and aviation development studies funded by the World Bank, and including a number of field trips into Pakistan. Since then, he has worked extensively in Maldives where he has been involved in a series of development planning and infrastructure projects. He has also undertaken market studies in relation to tourism development in Sri Lanka. In the South Pacific, he has worked in many of the islands on behalf of the EC, in connection with tourism development studies, trade promotion, and project evaluation, covering Fiji, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea, New Caledonia and Vanuatu.

Elsewhere in the Pacific, his experience includes a number of studies on the Japanese outbound market, and market forecasting for travel to Thailand, Hong Kong and Australia. His most recent assignment has been at Subic Bay in the Philippines, assisting the SBMA with the realisation of ambitious plans for expanding its tourism sector there, including a study of Pacific outbound markets ( 1997). In 1999 he was back in Maldives, this time undertaking studies whose objective was to analyse and detail the potential for development of yacht based tourism in the north of Maldives, within the context of the country’s longstanding environmental and security policies.

Summary of Eastern Europe experience

Experience in Eastern Europe includes feasibility studies for hotel investment in Czechoslovakia (Prague). Undertaken for a UK private investor. Most recently, tourism planning in Slovakia ( 1997) undertaken as part of a UK Know How fund project.

Talks/ Seminars/ Conferences

Esmond Devas has given talks and hosted forums at many tourism meetings, including the Fiji Hotel Association annual convention, the Caribbean Tourism Organisation, BIT Milan ACP convention, and others


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