Tourism is recognised as a key area for the economic and commercial development of a macro-region, and it also plays a major role in the economy of the new millennium and in sustainable growth. In particular, the Mediterranean hosts almost 400 million tourists every year, accounting for 13% of exports, 23% of the service sector and employing more than 20 million people.
This is why we are concerned about the negative consequences experienced by this sector in relation to the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has seriously affected it not only due to travel restrictions, but also as a result of the cautious and fearful approach experienced in the global context. Many jobs are at risk.
Starting from this situation, the idea of elaborating a Sustainable Tourism Strategy in the Mediterranean context post COVID-19 was born, guided and supervised by a special committee called SAC (Sector Alliance Committee), which brings together tourism experts from different countries to gather opinions and suggestions on these issues with the aim of outlining an overview of the situation of the sector in the Mediterranean context, highlighting existing challenges and opportunities and proposing ways to move forward in the sector.
The committee met today, Thursday 17 December, in an interactive webinar entitled “Sustainable Tourism 2020 in the Mediterranean post-COVID-19 scenario” promoted by ASCAME, the Association of Mediterranean Chambers of Commerce, in the framework of the EBSOMED project, and which was also attended by Giovanni Guarise, Head Marketing Office of Euromed International Trade of the partner MACTT (Mediterranean Academy of Culture, Technology and Trade), the Malta-based higher education institute that has promoted two training projects on post-pandemic sustainable tourism for Erasmus+.
On this occasion, the first ideas were collected for the realisation of a strategic document on the Sustainable Tourism Strategy in the post COVID-19 Mediterranean context, with the aim of determining the strategic lines of action for tourism that will constitute the reference framework also for new initiatives and policies within the European framework. Within the framework of this strategy, it is also intended to capitalise on some previous strategic documents that include potential future initiatives and to highlight highlights on present and future business opportunities between the North and South shores of the Mediterranean.
Speakers at the meeting included Ghassan Aidi, President IHRA; Albert Rodríguez, Project Manager, Barcelona Chamber of Commerce (Spain); Roger Khayat, Economic Advisor to the President, Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture of Beirut and Mount-Lebanon; Ioannis Pappas, Director Mediterranean Region, Global Sustainable Tourism Council; Omar Hazineh, Executive Director, Jordan Inbound Tour Operators Association (Jordan); Claudia Guzzon, Project & Policy Officer, Conference of Peripheral Maritime Regions; Essia Guezzi, Project Manager, WWF North Africa; and Fethi Ferhane, President of the Tourism Commission, CCI Oran (Algeria).
All of them framed the situation in their respective countries, the perception of this global crisis among tourism operators and local communities and shared their vision of the role of governments and supranational institutions in relaunching the tourism sector, highlighting how the crisis can also be turned into an opportunity. Now everything is ready for a document that will pave the way for a renewed tourism that is able to push the economy towards a solid recovery and an increasingly eco-sustainable footprint.