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Times of change, sustainability and reinvention in Mediterranean Tourism

The Association of the Mediterranean Chambers of Commerce and Industry (ASCAME), the German-Arab Chamber of Industry and Commerce, the Alexandria Chamber of Commerce, Confederation of Egyptian European Business Association, organized on the 13th and 14th of July in Alexandria (Egypt) the 8th Mediterranean Tourism Forum (MEDITOUR), and met with its regional partners of the European project EBSOMED. More than 750 participants from 20 countries gathered at a key summit to discuss the new challenges of a strategic sector for the Mediterranean economy: tourism.

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Mediterranean Tourism Forum – MEDITOUR 2019

ASCAME – in the framework of the EBSOMED project – co-organises with GACIC the EU Med Roadshow – The Mediterranean Tourism Forum – MEDITOUR 2019.

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7th Mediterranean Tourism Forum - Meditour 2016

Under the slogan "Rising Destinations of the Mediterranean & Rising the Mediterranean as a Destination", the 7th edition of the Mediterranean Tourism Forum (MEDITOUR 2016) will present the current state of the tourism industry in the Mediterranean.

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The Mediterranean remains world leader in the tourism industry, in spite of economic and geopolitical challenges

International tourist arrivals increased by 4, 4% worldwide in 2015, reaching a total of 1.184 million tourists. The Mediterranean welcomed more than 30% of these total arrivals and, according to the recent report of the World Tourism Organization (WTO), this number should reach 500 million in 2030.

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EUROMED Invest in Barcelona supports Tourism in the Mediterranean

EUROMED Invest project aims to develop lasting business investment and relations within the Euro-Med area to contribute to the inclusive economic development of tourism in the region

 Green tourism is one of the several priority niches identified by the EUROMED Invest project as a strategic area of investment in the Euro Mediterranean Region

• Mediterranean countries propose the creation of a common touristic brand

• In the framework of the MEDITOUR forum, the creation of a “Mediterranean Tourism Agency” was debated. 

In the framework of the Mediterranean Week of Economic Leaders, the 6th edition of the Mediterranean Tourism Forum (Meditour) took place in Barcelona on the 28th of November last. The forum – organized by the Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture of Beirut and Mount-Lebanon, ASCAME, and the Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Navigation of Barcelona – was focused this year on Lebanon, especially on Beirut, as a main cultural, intellectual and tourist center, and a potential future ecotourism center in the eastern Mediterranean.

The forum was organized in the framework of the EUROMED Invest project, as a “Sector Alliance Committee” for Tourism, bringing together the most representative organisations of the Euro-Mediterranean Region working on the tourism sector. This is one of the key European co-financed projects aims to stimulate private investment and economic relations in the Euro-Mediterranean area, primarily relating to five key sectors: Tourism, Transport & Logistics, Agro-food, Water & Alternative Energies and Cultural & Creative Industries. Indeed, reinvigorating the

Tourism sector in the Eastern Mediterranean is one of the project’s principle goals.

The forum has represented the most important international platform for networking in the Mediterranean region, and provided an exchange of expertise and views about the latest trends in Tourism.

One of the key debates of the forum focused on the importance of establishing a Mediterranean brand to support the complementarities of the tourism sector of both Mediterranean shores. Another much debated topic was the importance of the creation of a Mediterranean Tourism Agency. The session which tackled this issue counted on the participation of, among others, Emmanuel Noutary, Coordinator of EuroMed Invest project and General Delegate of ANIMA Investment Network, and count also on the participation of Jerónimo Pérez Casero, President of Málaga Chamber of Commerce and President of ASCAME’s Tourism Commission.

The event was inaugurated by the Lebanese Minister of Tourism, Mr. Michel Pharaon; the President of ASCAME and of the Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture of Beirut and Mount-Lebanon, Mr. Mohamed Choucair; the President of the Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Navigation of Barcelona, Mr. Miquel Valls, the President of Businessmed, Mr. Jacques Sarraf and the President of the Mediterranean Franchise Federation, Mr. Charles Arbid. This first session was moderated by the Managing Director of the Barcelona Tourism Board, Mr. Jordi William Carnes.

The President of ASCAME, Mr. Mohamed Choucair, highlighted that the tourism in the Mediterranean region should increase 80% by 2025. The president also mentioned the good prospects for the future of tourism, due to the growing interest of the region from new markets such as Asia, and especially China and India. Mohamed Choucair highly believes that in order to increase the number of tourists, the Mediterranean Region must be promoted as a whole and not as a group of countries. He adds that the collaboration among all the countries of the region is essential to create a common touristic offer and to prevent the unbalanced competition that might exist in the sector.

The Minister of Tourism of Lebanon highlighted that the number of tourists in Lebanon has increased despite of the riots that took place between June and September.

Mr. Rao on behalf of UNESCO highlighted the rich cultural and natural heritage of the Mediterranean Region, with 236 World Heritage sites and 56 Elements on the Intangible Heritage List. Mr. Rao emphasized the efforts that UNESCO is making to safeguard and promote this heritage through its sustainable tourism programme.

The special session on Lebanon entitled “The Challenge of Tourism in the Country of Cedars” was moderated by the General Director of the Ministry of Tourism in Lebanon, Mrs. Nada Sardouk. The forum counted on the participation of the President of the Lebanese Federation for Tourism Industries, Mr. Pierre Achkar: The President of Beiteddine Festival, Mrs. Nora Joumblatt; the President of the Municipality of Jbeil-Byblos, Mr. Ziad Hawat; the President of the Association of Travel and Tourist Agents in Lebanon, Mr. Jean Abboud, the Representative of Ecotourism, Mr. Rafic Bazerji, the management member of the Businessmen Association in Tripoli and North, Mr. Wassim el Naghi and the Office Manager of Solidere, Mrs. Micheline Abi Samra.

During the session, the actions to be implemented in order to recover from the crisis of the tourist sector, which has directly affected the countries of the North and the South of the Mediterranean, as a consequence of the instability in the region, were discussed. In these countries, the tourism sector accounted for around 8.5 million jobs in direct and indirect employment (15% of total employment).

Furthermore, the aim of the sessions about the country of Cedars was to consolidate the initiatives to be undertaken by the sector, in order to maximize the efficient use of the current infrastructure and tourism regional development investment program, which will reach one trillion dollars. The main objectives of this plan, supported by the European Investment Bank (EIB), are to increase the airports capacity, to increase air fleets to 150% and to improve the tourist accommodation.

Ms. Esther Martinez – acting as Chairperson of the EUROMED Invest Sector Alliance Committee for Tourism – was responsible for moderating the session on “The Future of Travel and Tourism in the Mediterranean Region – A Vision to 2025”. This highly stimulating session counted on the participation of Rodolfo Giampieri, President form the Forum of the Adriatic and Ionian Chambers of Commerce and President of Ancona Chamber of Commerce; Antonio López de Ávila, President of SEGITOUR, a State-owned Company for the Management of Innovation and Tourism Technologies in Spain and Michel Frenzel, Chairman of the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC).

During this session, it was strongly highlighted the issue regarding the regional and local security as well as the political, economic, social and technological key factors for the tourism development.

It was also highly remarked that travel & tourism are a global key driver of socio-economic progress in the Mediterranean Region through the creation of jobs, enterprises and infrastructure development.

The special session about “The Green Tourism” allowed the participants to discuss the different strategies available and good practices regarding a green and sustainable development of tourism, as well as the role that the municipalities and the private sector should play in order to promote the change of the tourism offer in the region.

Green Tourism is one of the key priority niches identified by the EUROMED Invest project as a strategic area of investment in the Euro Mediterranean Region, with a view to promoting the sustainable growth of the sector on the northern, southern and eastern shores of the Mediterranean Sea.

The session counted on the participation of Charles Arden-Clarke, Acting Head of 10YFP Secretariat in UNEP; Mohammad Asfour, Chair of World GBC MENA Network and Board Member of the World Green Building Council; Mary Mulvey, CEO of Ecotourism Ireland; José Guillermo Díaz, CEO of Artiem Hotels and Núria Sendrós Rius, from the Protected Natural Spaces Department, of the Genralitat de Catalunya, and representing the MEET Project.

Finally, the participants of the session regarding the Mediterranean Tourism Agency determined some of the requirements and the features that the future Mediterranean Tourism Agency would need to have. The Agency should be able to offer the entire industry, key and precise sector information, to forecast the sector trends.

The 8th edition of the Mediterranean Week of Economic Leaders gathered, during three days, more than 1300 international and regional business leaders and policymakers from the private sector, as well as policy authorities and international organizations which will discuss and analyze the Euro-Mediterranean policies, as well as the economic situation of the Mediterranean Region, highlighting the opportunities of the green economy and the sustainability, as main driving forces for the economic and social growth of the Mediterranean Region.

ASCAME and other institutions draw a new roadmap for the Mediterranean integration

More than 1300 experts have participated in the Medaweek 2014 and in the 10 thematic forums including more than 60 sessions and business meetings

• A bet has been launched to develop a strategy of Business Intelligence specific to the Mediterranean region.

• A call has been made on a better economic integration for the Maghreb region. 

• The creation of a Mediterranean Tourism Agency and a Mediterranean brand have been encouraged. 

• The green economy has been described as essential to foster the sustainable development of the region. 

• The launch of support programs addressed to the Mediterranean young entrepreneurs has been announced. 

The 8th Mediterranean Week of Economic Leaders ended on Friday 28th of November after three days during which 10 thematic forums and more than 60 working sessions haven taken place. With more than 1.300 participants, this event has brought together representatives from the private sector, political authorities and international organizations, making this event the main meeting of Mediterranean leaders.

The Mediterranean Week of Economic Leaders, organized by the Association of the Mediterranean Chambers of Commerce and Industry (ASCAME) and the Chamber of Commerce of Barcelona, has also counted on the collaboration of the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM), with which ASCAME has signed a new Memorandum of Understanding through which the common interest between both organizations to promote the Mediterranean has been renewed.

“A need for change” has been the main theme of this edition. The proposals that have been highlighted during the different sessions organized in the framework of the forums, have been the following:

During the NABDF forum, the economic integration of the Maghreb has been presented as the best way to enable the region to be listed among the main economic blocs of the world.

The costs of the “disunity” between the Maghreb countries are estimated to 8000 million euros per year while the benefits of a better integration between these countries should lead to a growth of 30% of the GDP over 10 years.

The integration should allow a better exploitation of the existing complementarities between the Maghreb countries in the sectors of energy, agriculture, tourism and mines. It would also help to use better the existing human resources and to get closer to Europe and Africa.

The need of the Maghreb region are becoming opportunities for their European neighbors, confirming thus the potential and the synergies between Europe and the North of Africa.

In the field of Economic Intelligence, it has been underlined the existence of factors essentials to enable the Mediterranean to recover its role of economic power. In this regard, the implementation of a strategy of business intelligence specific to the Mediterranean, as an alternative of the Anglo-Saxon world, has been described as vital and has been decided to exploit more in depth this concept for the coming editions of the Mediterranean Week.

The Mediterranean forum on Free Zones and Special Economic Zones has allowed the consolidation of an action plan in order to increase the absorption of the foreign investment and create a safe scenario for the future projects in the region.

The MEDITOUR forum, whose sixth edition has spotlighted Lebanon, has encouraged the creation of a Mediterranean Tourism Agency, as a main tool for the efficient development of a brand specific to the Mediterranean. This initiative will allow reaching a better profitability of the planned investment in the sector for the coming years, already estimated to more than a billion dollars.

The forum on entrepreneurs has brought together the experts of the business world, governments, banks, universities, associations of entrepreneurs and multilateral organizations. During the session, it has been highlighted that the high percentage of 50% of unemployed graduates prevents the sustainable economic development of the Mediterranean region. In order to address this shortfall, it has been discussed the implementation of programs, counting on the support of the universities, and financial and technical support organizations, which offer to the graduates the opportunity to become entrepreneurs.

The 2nd edition of the Islamic Finances Summit has called on the regional governments to implement changes and to adopt the legal frameworks essential to welcome this booming financial sector. The Islamic finances, with an annual growth of 20%, represent today 4% of the international finances.

Regarding the initiatives to be launched in the field of the green economy, the countries of the region have been called on taking the following measures in order to capture the economic flows planned for the investment, estimated to 100.000 million dollars until 2030 at the world scale:

• Raising the awareness of the businessmen and businesswomen to encourage them to adopt measures of sustainable development within their companies.

• Suggesting to the governments to support the concept of green industries with the objective of improving the industrial development and increasing the competitiveness in this field.

• Promoting to the multilateral and international organizations, the need to dedicate budgets and lines of technical supports for the implementation of programs in favor of the green industry in the Mediterranean.

• Encouraging the green bank, as a tool for social responsibility, in favor of the sustainable development.

The participants have described these initiatives as essential to allow the green economy sector to grow faster and to create jobs in the following fields: clean technologies, solar energy, water supply, green transport, eco-tourism, green edification and agriculture.

ASCAME has announced the creation of a representative office in Saudi Arabia, in agreement with its ambition to promote the Mediterranean worldwide. This bureau will play a role of technical support and will help the members of ASCAME as well as the Mediterranean and Gulf companies.

ASCAME, as a catalyst for the Mediterranean integration from the civil society and promoter of the Mediterranean association, has signed 4 memoranda of understanding with the Union for the Mediterranean, MedCruise, BusinessMed and the ICC/WCF.

ASCAME has also launched its first Mediterranean awards which, for this edition, have been given to UNESCO, VUELING and the Union for the Mediterranean. In parallel with the Mediterranean Week, it was held the XXIII ASCAME General Assembly to which the main Chambers of Commerce of the region have participated, following the meeting of the Executive Committee held the day before. During the Assembly, the members have ratified the lines of action of ASCAME as well as the new initiatives, including the 23 projects in which ASCAME and its network participate. The members have been invited to be involved in those projects.

For more information about ASCAME and the different forums which took place during the Mediterranean week of Economic leaders, do not hesitate to contact us by mail : communication@ascame.org or visit our webpage : www.medaeconomicweek.org

ASCAME has launched the new web site of the Mediterranean Week of Economic Leaders

The Association of the Mediterranean Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ASCAME) and the Barcelona Chamber of Commerce organize together since 2006, the Mediterranean Week of Economic Leaders. This year will take place the 8th edition from the 26th to 28th of November in Barcelona, in Casa Llotja del Mar. The focus of this 8th edition will be made on Green Economy as a main driving force for the economic and social growth of the Mediterranean region. 

This event for the Mediterranean plays a vital role in line with the latest regional developments, offering again a unique platform for thought exchanges of experiences, addressing critical issues like the integration of the Maghreb region (NABDF); the solar and sustainable energy in the Mediterranean region; Mediterranean city values (Medacity); the opportunities of the Islamic Finance; the entrepreneurship as a vital element in economic development by sharing best practices, proposing concrete projects and creating new business opportunities.

This year, in the framework of the Mediterranean Week, will be held the VI Edition of Mediterranean Tourism Event (Meditour), which will be focusing on Lebanon as one of the jewels in the Mediterranean crown and especially on Beirut.

The participants can now register directly on the web page www.medaeconomicweek.org/register

You can also follow us on twitter using the hashtag #MedaWeek2014.

ASCAME and MedCruise have met to discuss avenues of collaboration between both institutions

The multiple benefits and the different ways of cooperation were discussed Carla Salvadó, MedCruise President and Thanos Pallis, MedCruise Secretary General with Mr. Anwar Zibaoui, Coordinator of The Mediterranean Chambers of Commerce and Industry-ASCAME and Mrs Julie Amerigo, International and Institutional Relations of ASCAME in a meeting that was held at the ASCAME General Secretariat offices in Barcelona, Spain on Thursday, October 14.

ASCAME was founded on 1st of October 1982, as an initiative of the Barcelona Chamber of Commerce in conjunction with its counterparts from different Mediterranean countries.

ASCAME membership is of more than 300 Chambers of Commerce and other associated bodies from 23 countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea - and works with the most important organizations and international institutions, aimed to the social and economic development of the Mediterranean region. MedCruise and ASCAME discussed the possibility of signing Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) indicating an intended common line of action on specific areas of interest. 

Mr. Zibaoui invited Carla Salvadó to participate as a speaker at the VI Mediterranean Tourism Forum-MEDITOUR 2014, in November 27th, 2014 in the context of the 8th Mediterranean Week of Economic Leaders that will be held in Barcelona, Spain.