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Jordan Tourism in the global spotlight at UNWTO conference in Petra

Jordan Tourism in the global spotlight at UNWTO conference in Petra

Today a two-day regional conference organized jointly by the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), the Jordan Ministry of Tourism & Antiquities, and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development opened in Petra, Jordan.

Among the participants are minsters of tourism from the region including Jordan, Palestine, Tunisia along with stakeholders, bank officials, the ambassador of Britain, the minister of labor for Joran,  Her Over the past decades, tourism has experienced significant growth and has become one of the fastest growing socio-economic sectors in the world. In 2015, international tourist arrivals totalled nearly 1.2 billion and are expected to reach 1.8 billion by 2030. Accounting for more than 10% of global GDP, 30% of the world’s trade in services and one in eleven jobs worldwide, tourism is an economic powerhouse that creates opportunities to improve the livelihoods of millions.

But these big numbers represent more than just economic strength – they reflect tourism’s vast potential and increasing capacity to address some of the world’s most pressing challenges, including economic growth, inclusive development, resource management, environmental preservation and the promotion of a more tolerant and peaceful society. Countries of the Southern and Eastern Mediterranean region (SEMED) are experiencing significant growth in tourism and are thus in the position to take full advantage of the opportunities tourism presents. Challenges remain, however, and need to be addressed accordingly.

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First, the lack of trained staff and the resulting impact on the quality of service is a key operational challenge for the industry. Inclusive tourism provides a win-win solution that offers businesses access to a greater and better workforce while at the same time providing economic opportunities for youth and women. Second, standards and best practices in energy and resource efficiency, climate resilience and building sustainability need to be applied by the tourism sector and shall ensure that the countries will continue to benefit from tourism in the future. Third, backward and forward linkages need to be generated in order to fully engage local Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) – a vital ingredient for a healthy market economy – in the complex tourism supply chain. Aims and objectives The two-day conference aims to bring together tourism stakeholders from the public, private, banking, investment and development sectors, who are working in the SEMED region and are driving tourism development on a national, regional or global level. Under the umbrella of the EBRD and UNWTO, the conference should facilitate dialogue among these key stakeholders and should help identify challenges and best practices that are specific to the region.

This should also support the drafting of comprehensive recommendations for tourism development in the future, encompassing the following three priority areas: • Provide access to training and employment opportunities in the effort to address the large inclusion gaps concerning youth and women, and to reduce regional employment and skills disparities. This would include – besides strengthening the professional skills for the accommodation and tour operating sectors – incentivizing entrepreneurship in productive sectors in goods and services related to the tourism value chain. • Enhance resource and energy efficiency through improved building standards and increased capacity in building management.

This would entail creating better understanding of resource efficient operations, increasing competitiveness as well as removing barriers for investing in resource efficiency and promoting sound policies and incentives. • Strengthen local Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises to become integral parts of the complex tourism value chain, which requires integrating trade policy dimensions into tourism planning at the national as well as the corporate level, particularly with regard to local and sector-specific institutions.

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