The 1st Meeting of the OIC/COMCEC Private Sector Tourism Forum was held on 7-8 December 2012 in İzmir, Turkey with the collaboration of Organization of Islamic Cooperation, the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of the Republic of Turkey and Standing Committee for Economic and Commercial of the Organization of Islamic Countries (COMCEC). The Forum was attended by public and private sector representatives from 11 OIC Member Countries, OIC General Secretariat and relevant OIC institutions, including Statistical, Economic and Social Research and Training Centre for Islamic Countries (SESRIC), COMCEC Coordination Office, and Islamic Centre for Development of Trade (ICDT) as well as United Nations Development Program (UNDP) Turkey office.
The Forum focused on the following two working sessions: (1) Sustainable and Community Based Tourism in the World and the OIC Region: Policies, Strategies and Tools; (2) The Role of Private Sector in Sustainable Tourism and Community Based Tourism. In the first working session, the current situation and common challenges of the OIC Member Countries in the field of tourism was presented by Dr. Umut Unal, Researcher at SESRIC. The other keynote speakers made presentations on sustainable tourism by stressing on the importance of local authenticity for the development of sustainable tourism in the OIC countries. It is also particularly touched upon the details of the “Environmentally Friendly Accommodation Facility Certification Project” of Turkey with related to sustainable tourism. The second working session started with the presentations of Association of Turkish Travel Agencies (TURSAB) and Turkish Hoteliers Federation (TUROFED) on Turkish experience in sustainable tourism. In the presentations, the contribution of sustainable tourism development to the private sector and the vitality of sustainable and community based tourism for the future of the industry were underlined.
Following the discussions and presentations, the Forum emphasized the significance of sustainable and community based tourism for the OIC region and raising awareness of all relevant stakeholders in the member countries.
The Forum welcomed the offer of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of the Republic of Turkey to organize a training program on “Management of Hotels and Travel Agencies” in April 2013. The forum also called upon the member countries and their private sector entities to actively participate in the following tourism events to be organized by the ICDT:
- The 2nd OIC Tourism Fair, 20-23 December, 2012 (Cairo, Arab Republic of Egypt)
- The 1st OIC Trade Handicraft Exhibition of the OIC Member States, 11-14 April, 2013 (Casablanca, Kingdom of Morocco).