ST-EP Seminar for Arab Countries, Granada (Spain), from 19 to 21 September 2012

30 Sep 12

A regional UNWTO seminar on Sustainable Tourism for the Elimination of Poverty (ST-EP) for Arab Countries was held in Granada, Spain, from 19 to 21 September 2012. The seminar was one of a series of initiatives by the World Tourism Organization, relating to its twin priorities of special assistance to Arab Countries and its programme on Sustainable Tourism for the Elimination of Poverty (ST-EP). The seminar was attended by ten officials from National and Regional Tourism Administrations or Offices of Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Yemen, as well as five representatives from the University of Kerbala, Iraq. The seminar spanned three days, with the afternoon of the third day devoted to a technical visit to the Alhambra in Granada.

The seminar aimed to familiarize key tourism stakeholders from Arab Countries with the UNWTO ST-EP Initiative, raise awareness on the relation between tourism and local economic development, and identify opportunities to expand ST-EP activities in the Arab World. Particular attention was paid to disseminating experiences from existing ST-EP projects in the Middle East as well as in other regions of the world with a view to sharing the lessons learned and encouraging stakeholders in the tourism sector to replicate best practices in their destinations. The seminar introduced the procedure to identify, formulate and execute ST-EP projects and raised awareness among participants that irrespective of the economic situation of a country, there are always destinations in the country where the approach of the ST-EP initiative can be applied.

Participants indicated that the ST-EP approach would especially be useful in the Arab World to help create opportunities for young people to benefit from tourism development, to help derive income for poorer groups of the society from heritage conservation and tourism, and to stimulate investments in tourism in communities located in destinations with an attractive natural and cultural heritage. It was recommended to get tourism included in national development strategies and programmes, and to actively approach governments and donors in the Arab World to obtain support for ST-EP activities. Participants indicated that the Seminar encouraged them to start identifying potential ST-EP interventions in their countries, as well as to explore possibilities for obtaining donor support for these interventions.