Back Asia Resilience Summit: Public private partnerships ‘essential’ to tourism strategy
The first Asian travel and tourism Resilience Summit will be told public private partnerships are an essential ingredient for countries developing sustainable and resilient tourism sectors.
The event, which is taking place in Nepal on May 30-31, features a senior line-up of travel industry company bosses, officials and dignitaries to discuss tourism policy and best practice.
Among them will be Global Travel and Tourism Resilience Council supporter Ibrahim Osta, Middle East and North Africa director of tourism consultancy Chemonics International.
Osta said: “The main message is that resilience does not work by just advising what governments should do.
“It’s about partnerships between government, the private sector and local communities. That’s really our approach, that’s the model we bring.
“We take companies to destinations they would not have gone to and facilitate links between local companies and larger ones, forging partnerships between the tourism industry and finance sector.
“It’s really partnerships across the board that builds resilience by creating business models that benefit everybody.
“At the end of the day it has to be adopted by government and the national tourists offices for the local communities that we work in.”
Osta said countries that lack the technical or financial to develop their tourism infrastructure should look to partner with the private sector to bring down any barriers to development.
And he said all tourism development can be sustainable as long as it is managed properly. “Travel can be sustainable and should be, it’s all about planning and how you manage it.”
Chemonics has advised many countries on developing long-term tourism strategies including Jordan, Georgia and Russia.
“We are happy to share our knowledge because we have worked with a number of countries in different political environments, some are challenged economically, others have political issues.
“Of course things happen, political or economic shocks that are maybe unforeseen, so we need to work with business communities to develop resilience so they can keep moving forward.”
Osta said there is a range of preparedness among countries around the globe for shocks that might occur, but he warned:
“Unfortunately more are ill-prepared than those that are prepared. We do see more of a reactionary response as opposed to planned responses.”
Chemonics says it is increasingly working with countries on tourism dispersal and diversification to counter issues like overtourism in visitor hotspots.
Having recovered from the devastating 2015 earthquake, Asia Resilience Summit host Nepal has set out a strategy to broaden its appeal as it targets 20 million visitors by 2020.
Osta said one of Nepal’s key challenge is to increase the average spend per visitor by appealing to higher end clients and encouraging people to stay longer.
“Nepal is a great destination. You’ve got to give it credit for bouncing back and working really hard to recreate its image.
“The country has lots of attractions beyond trekking and adventure tourism and they need to present that to the world in an attractive way.”
Osta added that although enabling countries to be prepared to handle the impact of crises is part of Chemonics’s work, the aim is to help destinations take advantage of a growing tourism sector.
“Resilience sits across all areas of development from national policy and promotion, policy and regulation and product development and management and workforce development.
“When you are working on all of those things you are helping destinations build resilience by improving incomes at a national as well as a community level and creating jobs.”
The Asian Resilience Summit is organised by the Global Travel and Tourism Resilience Council and Pata, with the assistance of Jacobs Media Group, owner of Travel Weekly, which co-founded the GTTRC.