The 2nd Meeting of the OIC/COMCEC Private Sector Tourism Forum was held on 16-17 December 2013 in Istanbul, Turkey under the theme "Effective Marketing Strategies for Promoting Tourism Destinations in the COMCEC Region" 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 18 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).
The Forum focused on the following three working sessions: (1) Global/Regional Trends in Destination Marketing Strategies: Policies, Strategies and Tools; (2) Challenges and Prospects in Destination Marketing in the COMCEC Region; (3) Utilizing the Social Media and Other Communication Instruments for Sharing Marketing Messages. 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. He pointed out the performance and the economic role of the international tourism sector in the OIC member countries. He also highlighted some issues and problems regarding the tourism development and cooperation in the OIC countries and proposed a set of recommendations to serve as policy guidelines. The other keynote speakers made presentations on global and regional trends in destination marketing strategies and the participants were informed about the key trends in technology and consumer behaviours. It was stressed that communication is increasingly mobile, more immediate, shorter and faster and thereby there is a need to present the tourism destination with a well-defined content and using different media tools.
Member Countries made presentations and shared their country experiences in destination marketing during the second working session. Insufficient tourism products and lack of product diversification, poor service quality, inadequate market knowledge, negative market image and perceptions, lengthy visa procedures are highlighted as the main challenges. The third working session started with the presentation of the representative of Istanbul Digital Platform. During the presentation, the importance of destination website and the inter-linkage between the website and the social media were pointed out.
Following the discussions and presentations, the Forum emphasized the importance of effective marketing strategies for promoting the tourism destinations in the COMCEC region. It is highlighted that effective marketing requires utilization of full range of tools available including among others social media, e-marketing, etc. Underlining the importance of developing cultural tourism routes and joint tours in the COMCEC region, the Forum pointed out the necessity of creating online platforms to promote the destinations and facilitate communication and networking among the private sector representatives.