The 16th edition of MedaWeek in Barcelona focuses on the cooperation of the 14 countries of the Mediterranean region to achieve, in both the short and long term, sustainable tourism that focuses on the economic and tourism prosperity of the area. MedaWeek has already established itself as one of the most important conferences in the Mediterranean, is dynamic and promotes the economic progress and development of the region. The free zone tries to turn uncertainties into opportunities.
To this end, the main personalities who attended the "opening" of the event signed a document that they hope will be the development sheet and the route to be followed by all the Chambers of Commerce in Asia, Africa and Europe in the coming years, indicating the main problems that need to be solved and the methods and solutions to solve them.
"Cooperation is more necessary than ever because of the crisis that could be avoidable. The region is not only an opportunity for European companies, but also a necessity for a more inclusive Mediterranean policy. The future of Europe is played in the South, the destiny of the European Union and Africa is linked to the Mediterranean, it is the space of union of more than 180 million inhabitants, we must strengthen the inclusion in the global economy to transform it," said Ahmed El Wakil, president of ASCAME, an entity that celebrates its 40th anniversary and that also has an important role with members of more than 125 million companies and 300 chambers of commerce in 200 cities in 43 countries since they are in three continents: Africa, Asia and Europe.
The texts were signed by Nasser Kamel, Secretary General of the Union for the Mediterranean (UFM), Joan Romero, Executive Director of ACCIÓ, Pau Solanilla, Commissioner for Economic Promotion of the Barcelona City Council, Senen Florensa, President of IEMED, Mònica Roca, President of the Barcelona Chamber of Commerce, and Ahmed El Wakil himself, as President of ASCAME.
The agreements signed were the creation of the Mediterranean Arbitration and Mediation Court in Barcelona, whose function will be to promote investment between the Mediterranean and the rest of the world. The creation of the Air Forum to improve tourism in the Mediterranean area, with the aim of promoting a single brand for the area, and a study centre for the blue economy, which is one of the axes for the future of the region, were also specified.
Chambers of commerce have historically contributed with states to support the private sector, have the advantage of talking to the authorities, who are key actors to promote cooperation and investments, and become institutions that promote and help achieve world peace. Regionalisation and globalisation are objectives that must be protected. Mechanisms must be created that can assess and help people, in particular SMEs. Chambers of commerce should be in a position to help and bring synergies together.
We want a profitable region. Views to improve new relations in climate and economics. The time is now. We have to be quick in giving answers to humanity, innovation is a great opportunity to be better and disruptive. Innovation and open relations from north to south is the way to improve the city of Barcelona, Catalonia bets on the Mediterranean, it is a commercial area, it is the right side to improve.
The Mediterranean is the world's leading tourist area with almost 400 million tourists: it represents 32% of all international arrivals and 30% of global income. It accounts for 13% of exports, 23% of the services sector and employs more than 20 million people. The region has 20% of the world's hotel accommodation capacity. It has 10,000 destinations, some 100,000 hotels and one million restaurants. However, despite these figures, tourism remains heterogeneous and fragmented between the two shores of the Mediterranean.
Stimulus measures and economic incentives for tourism investment and operation and preparation for the future are needed to accelerate recovery: support job retention, rescue SMEs and boost start-ups in the sector and protect the most vulnerable groups; review taxes and charges affecting transport and tourism; ensure consumer protection and confidence; boost events and congresses; promote new jobs and skills acquisition, especially digital skills; include tourism in national and regional economic emergency mechanisms to restore confidence and stimulate demand; create crisis management mechanisms and strategies. In conclusion, prioritise tourism in recovery and development aid programmes.
The 9th Mediterranean Tourism Forum is the unmissable event for those seeking to develop tourism products in the wake of COVID-19, create a Mediterranean brand and grow the sector in sustainable terms, especially when it comes to the Mediterranean islands.
The creation of a single brand for the whole Mediterranean is key to fostering joint promotion and marketing systems and tools to compete in the global market and to expand the Mediterranean's share of the tourism market in order to generate income, create jobs and reduce gaps. Other regions of the world are doing this, such as the Caribbean and Africa. Given that the Mediterranean region is the world's leading tourist destination, the creation of such a brand has not been a necessity until now, but it is feasible and essential in such an unequal region. The most obvious answer is to get out of this major crisis and to enhance the value of tourism in the Mediterranean. The exchange of practices and coordination between countries on both shores must be the priority.
Key points for discussion: What can be done to increase collaboration in the Mediterranean tourism industry? What challenges exist for the future of the tourism sector? What impact does digital transformation and innovation have on traditional business? And what can the hotel sector do to boost it?
With COVID-19, the islands have suffered billions of euros of business losses, both direct and indirect. The world has gone through a painful, heavy and costly phase in its long battle against the virus, and the battle continues. This is why we have an opportunity to revive the sector and offer a new tourism model post COVID-19. The impact of cruise ships and ships on the ecosystem of the islands is an issue about which they were very concerned because of the fragility of the ecosystems that the islands have, which must be taken care of because it is one of the major attractions that exist in the area as well as protecting and promoting the Mediterranean diet, which would mean favouring the intangibles of the culture of the region.
The present and future challenges, for the Mediterranean in general and its islands in particular, are to become a sustainable tourist destination and to impose a shared responsibility based on the three pillars of sustainability: economic, environmental and social. The tourism of the future incorporates balanced and focused development objectives and requires a change of attitude throughout the value chain in terms of destinations, businesses and tourists.
If we could summarise the objectives, the methods to achieve them and the common points that MedaWeek wants to put in place to favour tourism in the area, they would be: innovation and planning.