Times of change, sustainability and reinvention in Mediterranean Tourism

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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.

Barcelona, 22nd of July 2019 – Government representatives, international organizations, agencies, tour operators, experts, public and private entities of the tourism sector, hotel chains, sustainable tourism companies and digital solutions providers from both shores of the Mediterranean, travelled to Alexandria to attend the 8th edition of MEDITOUR, the Mediterranean Tourism Forum. A summit that this year has focused on the challenges facing the Mediterranean tourism sector, such as digitalization, the progressive involvement of Mediterranean women into business, the young people employability and training, the funding opportunities or the sustainable tourism.

The event brought together more than 750 participants from 20 countries in several sessions held over two days. A successful participation that maintains the trend of the previous 7 editions (Tangier, Antalya, Hammamet, Malaga, Marseille, Beirut and Mersin) of a summit that has positioned itself as a reference in a sector which contributes to Mediterranean economy development with figures such as 11.3% of regional GDP, 11.5% of employment, 11.5% of exports or 6.4% of capital investments.

The President of ASCAME, Ahmed M. El Wakil, was in charge of MEDITOUR official opening. "It is very important to support domestic trade through tourism, also outside the peak time of beach tourism", said El Wakil. "This is the idea we have developed together with the European Union in different cooperation initiatives: we have designed innovative regional programmes on Islamic tourism, gastronomic tourism or agricultural tourism, among others", he added. In addition, the President of ASCAME wanted to showcase the Mediterranean as the world's leading tourist destination since "it is expected to attract more than 420 million tourists by 2020", while highlighting the need to encourage dialogue and cooperation between the public and private sectors with two main objectives: promote the Mediterranean as one of the main tourist destinations and encourage investment and technological collaboration, always complying with sustainable standards.

The Egyptian Minister of Supplies and Internal Trade, Ali Meselhi, outlined how to expand the already existing potential in the Mediterranean tourism sector through the advantages offered by digital marketing and sustainable tourism. To which Ambassador Ivan Surkoš, Head of the European Delegation in Egypt, added: "Investment in tourism should integrate sustainable concepts that allow sustainable income for the country".

The tourism sector in the Mediterranean is nowadays facing new challenges to adapt to digitalisation; counteract the negative impact on the environment and social sustainability of the high number of tourists, and to ensure their economic viability. Events like MEDITOUR allow the main sectoral agents to share experiences; create joint-ventures and business opportunities; promote the host country; explore new tools available in the digital era, and move forward together so that tourism remains the locomotive of socio-economic development and job creation in the region.

A reinvention of Mediterranean tourism becomes now crucial: we need to rethink the current models and find new ways of marketing. There is also a need to derive the maximum profit from the sector to create jobs, reduce poverty and contribute to peace, especially on the south shore. However, this must be implemented from a new sustainable and coordinated vision that works with the different territories; reviews social tourism; takes care of the heritage, and addresses the challenge posed by climate change, which is fundamental for long-term sustainability.

The foundation of a Mediterranean tourism agency by both the public and private sectors is also required. Such an institution would facilitate the creation of a unique brand for a single promotion of the Mediterranean in the world, for which is necessary to join forces and offer packages of integrated destinations to compete with other regions in the future.

The south needs tourism, but it will be unfeasible without peace, stability and cooperation between both shores. The Mediterranean should not be a gap between two worlds, but a common area for all its inhabitants and visitors.

Click here to see the photos of the event. 

 

Press articles of the MEDITOUR Forum:

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