Countries / Territories

Session Summary: Closing of the World Export Development Forum 2011

  • Moderator: Ms. Patricia Francis, Executive Director, ITC

    Ms Francis opened the final session of WEDF 2011 by saying this should be seen as a first step on a journey towards achieving the goals set at the outset, determining how countries can achieve inclusive and sustainable tourist development. She welcomed Professor Lipman’s vision of ‘travelism’, including industries such as aviation linked to tourism, and also the importance of looking forward to mid-century. She said big questions had been raised, and it was clear there was no silver bullet solution, but the stories from Rwanda and Burundi, both countries emerging from conflict, showed how a structured approach to managing and thinking through the issues could be effective in moving from crisis to economic development.

    She stressed the importance of action: it was important to think in a comprehensive way, but not so comprehensive as to become trapped in writing policies and not taking action. There was a need to think structurally and take action at the same time. Ms. Francis said it was important to find ways to ensure that revenues and financial resources flowed back to areas where investment was critical, and she noted the repeated emphasis on the need to involve local communities that had been voiced during WEDF.

    Ms. Zoritsa Urosevic, UNWTO, informed the meeting about the new Making Tourism Work for Development alliance of nine United Nations agencies. The aim was to deploy the strengths of each agency to respond to the needs of LDCs, who were at the heart of the initiative. Under this innovative approach to Delivering as One in the area of tourism, agencies were making inputs to a joint portfolio that could offer services in an integrated manner. So far some 50 services had been articulated under four pillars.

    Mr. Dick de Man, Deputy Managing Director, Centre for Promotion of Imports from Developing Countries (CBI), Netherlands, noted that CBI and ITC had been partners for two decades, and that CBI had been active in the tourism sector for many years. He endorsed the statement at the opening session by WTO Director-General Pascal Lamy that tourism seemed simple but was in fact very complex. Tourism required an embracing and inclusive approach, had huge potential to contribute to sustainable development and poverty reduction if the right choices were made, and needed both government and the private sector. The role of the State was to provide leadership and coherent policies, and to set priorities and provide dedication – half-heartedness does not work.

    Mr. de Man said a proactive private sector needed to involve local communities from the start, but it was also necessary to study the market, which was the driver for development. Very often tourism development happened in the wrong place and at the wrong time, resulting in low returns on investment and no contribution to poverty reduction. Policymakers needed to be well-informed to develop marketable projects, understanding market-driven considerations, and then enter into public-private partnerships (PPPs) and use the entrepreneurship of the private sector to achieve sustainable economic development and poverty reduction targets. Countries also needed well-resourced and well-functioning Tourist Boards – all too often these were weak and lacked resources.

    Mr. De Man noted that countries did not have to go it alone in developing their tourism sectors: agencies such as ITC and CBI had many decades of experience and could provide support in identifying solutions. He concluded by emphasizing: ‘Never forget that the key driver is the market.’

    Ms. Francis then introduced reports on the outcomes of the workshops held on the afternoon of the first day.

    H.E. Pan Sorasek, Secretary of State, Ministry of Commerce, Royal Government of Cambodia, presented the results of the workshop on ‘Engaging Women Vendors in the Tourism Value Chain: Impacting Human and Economic Development’. He said speakers had presented solid evidence and facts that supported and confirmed that there is a business case for sourcing from women vendors.

    Ms. Florence Kata, Executive Director, Uganda Export Promotion Board, and Mr. Ephraim Amare Awgichew, Director, Heritage Inventory Directorate, Ministry of Culture and Tourism, Ethiopia, presented the results of the workshop on ‘Inclusive Tourism as a Market Opportunity for the Developing World: Two cases – Ugandan handicrafts and Ethiopian cultural heritage’. They noted that it had been possible to have a useful exchange of experience with Turkish delegates on integrating handicrafts and cultural heritage into tourism.

    H.E. Felix Mosha, Chairman, Horticulture Development Council of Tanzania, reported on the workshop on ‘Integrating Horticulture in the Tourism Supply Chain’. He said that solving the problem of integrating horticulture into the tourist supply chain would go a long way to solving the problem of poverty reduction.

    Mr. Martin Roche, Partner, Étoile Partnership, reported on the workshop session that considered ‘Recovering tourism after a crisis’. He said the single most important conclusion of the session was the need to plan how to get out of a crisis before you get into it and to be clear and consistent in your proposition.

    Ms. Francis then introduced Mr. Sun Xiao, Director, Division for International Organizations, Department of International Relations, China Council for the Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT). Mr. Sun noted that last year’s WEDF in Chongqing, China, had established a follow-up mechanism and three areas of action had resulted, involving: women in trade, including women vendors; capacity development; and agricultural standards. He said a successful WEDF was a starting point for action, not an event standing alone, and he believed the WEDF 2011 in Istanbul was following the example of WEDF 2010 in Chongqing.

    Ms. Francis, in thanking Mr. Sun, disclosed that negotiations were under way with Indonesia to host WEDF 2012.

    H.E. Mr. Darlington Mwape, Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Zambia, delivered the closing address. He noted that tourism had been identified as a priority sector for development by 90% of LDCs and that it was already a major export earner for many of them. It created jobs and was becoming a significant industry worldwide, with a direct link to poverty eradication. The key messages that emerged from discussions at WEDF 2011 included:

    • Tourism should be approached in a sustainable manner;
    • It is important to prioritize tourism in development strategies;
    • There is an absolute need for security and political stability;
    • A circuit approach involving regional partners is highly desirable;
    • The role of the state in policy, legal and regulation creation is essential, but there is also a need to reduce bureaucracy and streamline licensing processes;
    • The empowerment of local communities and their sharing in benefits of tourism is critical;
    • Public-private partnerships are essential;
    • The issue of retention of earnings and reduction of leakages is one that confounds most LDCs;
    • Training and human capacity development must be a high priority;
    • Coordination and coherence with other economic sectors is important;
    • Effective marketing and positioning strategies are important to achieve successful branding and create a niche in the market;
    • Learning from the experiences of other countries and sharing success stories is an important ingredient.

    Ambassador Mwape said the key questions were how to move from ideas for projects to actual project development; how to support countries in building on the experience of others; how to ensure that issues of quality and consistency in supply were addressed; and how to design inclusive supply structures. There was no one-size-fits-all solution: each needed to be addressed in context.

    He stressed the need to understand the requirements of the market and how it was structured, including the use of intermediaries to create a critical mass and provide quality assurance. Financing would only be available to producers when supply value chains were clear. But finally, solutions must be about business, about making money. That was the bottom line, he said.

    Mr. Mwape closed by stressing the need for follow-up to the discussions at WEDF, and Ms. Francis stressed that ITC would be putting in place a follow-up plan after the meeting ended.