The Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA), under the South African Chair, hosted a Workshop on Coastal and Marine Tourism on Sunday 6 May 2018 in Durban, South Africa, that will form part of the 3rd Third IORA Tourism Expert’s Meeting where the Terms of Reference for an IORA Core Group on Tourism will be negotiated between experts in tourism of the 21 Member States of the Association. Both meetings will serve as preparatory meetings for the proposed 2nd IORA Tourism Ministerial Meeting to be held in South Africa in November 2018.
In her keynote address, South African Deputy Minister Elizabeth Thabethe said “the implementation of IORA’s Blue Economy has potential to accelerate ocean-driven economic growth amongst its members. Coastal and Marine Tourism is continuously growing and provides valuable income for coastal communities world-wide. It also represents an important contributor to the economy of countries and for generating employment”.
Tourism has been identified as a priority area for IORA and a number of tourism related meetings have been held that commenced with the 1st IORA Tourism Meeting held in Seychelles in 2014, followed by two tourism expert’s meetings held in Seychelles and South Africa in 2014 and 2015 respectively and a number of other related events held in Indonesia, India, Mauritius, Malaysia and Sri Lanka, that focused on Sustainable Tourism Destination Management (Mauritius, 2017); Building Sustainable Whale and Dolphin Watching Tourism in the Indian Ocean Region (Sri Lanka, 2016); Cultural Tourism (Indonesia, 2015); 2nd Tourism Expert’s Meeting (South Africa, 2015); 1st IORA Tourism and Travel Mart (Seychelles, 2014); Women’s Economic Empowerment workshop on Tourism and Textiles (Malaysia, 2014); IORA Core Group on Tourism Promotion (India, 2014); Workshop on Heritage Management (Sri Lanka, 2014) and Core Group on promoting Cultural Cooperation in IORA (Mauritius, 2012).
In 2017 the first IORA Leader’s Summit was held in Indonesia, the then IORA Chair and where the Jakarta Concord as the outcomes document of the Summit, endorsed the IORA Action Plan 2017-2021 crafted by the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Member States. The IORA Action Plan identified in its short-term actions the establishment of a Core Group on Tourism.
The key topics discussed included coastal and marine tourism, cruise tourism, governance and regulatory impediments, and skills and training challenges. The outcomes of these discussions will feed into the establishment of the Core Group on Tourism where the TOR to be developed would include the outcomes of the all the mentioned events held to be submitted to the Ministers of Tourism in November 2018 and the IORA Council of Ministers for endorsement. It is expected that the IORA Core Group will assess the importance of the sector in the Indian Ocean Region and how the Member States of the Association with the support of the Dialogue Partners could develop a sustainable job creating and developmental framework.
Tourism is a fast growing sector that contributes to 10% of the world’s GDP, creating 1 in 10 jobs globally, and has generated over US$ 1.4 trillion in export earnings. With the UNWTO predicting that international tourist arrivals will reach 1.8 billion by 2030, it is critical that multiple arenas such as the ocean economy are explored to grow sustainable tourism.