The Sixth Session of the Islamic Conference of Tourism Ministers (ICTM) was held in Damascus, Syrian Arab Republic, on 29 June - 2 July 2008. It was preceded by a two-day Meeting of the Senior Officials on 29-30 June. Representatives from 32 member countries, the World Tourism Organisation (WTO), the Arab Tourism Organisation, Iran cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organisation, the General Secretariat of the OIC and its subsidiary, specialised and affiliated institutions attended the Conference. Dr. Savas Alpay, Director General, and Mr. Nabil Dabour, Acting Director of Research Department, represented the Centre thereat.
After adopting the Agenda and Work Programme of their meeting, the Senior Officials reviewed and discussed the progress achieved in the implementation of the resolutions and decisions of the 5th Session of the ICTM, which was held in Baku on 9-12 September 2006. They also reviewed and discussed a set of common issues of concern to the member countries with a view to enhancing their cooperation in the field of tourism. In so doing, various background reports were submitted and presented at the Meeting by the OIC General Secretariat, various OIC institutions and some OIC member countries.
In this connection, the representatives of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Republic of Indonesia and Malaysia made their respective presentations prepared for the Conference on three main themes of Tourism Research and Training, Tourism facilitation and Tourism Marketing, respectively. The representatives of the IRCICA, SESRIC, ICDT, IDB, ISESCO and ICCI made their respective presentations on their background reports prepared for the Conference. The representatives of Bangladesh, Senegal, Turkey, Syria, Palestine, Malaysia and Egypt made country presentations on tourism activities in their respective countries.
Dr. Savas Alpay, Director General of the Centre, made a statement at the Senior Officials’ Meeting, in which he highlighted the activities of the Centre related to tourism sector in the OIC countries in the areas of statistics, research and training. In particular, he mentioned the latest version of the Report titled “International Tourism in the OIC countries: Prospects and Challenges”, which has been recently prepared by the Centre in a new format. He also mentioned the recently organised training workshop on tourism statistics by the Centre in Ankara on 16-18 June 2008, in collaboration with the Ministry of Culture ad Tourism of the Republic of Turkey, the Turkish Statistical Institute and the World Tourism Organisation (UN WTO).
Following the Statement of the Director General, Mr. Nabil Dabour, Acting Director of Research Department, presented the Report titled “International Tourism in the OIC Countries: Prospects and Challenges”. The Report assesses the performance and the economic role of the international tourism sector in the OIC member countries. It examines the traditionally used indicators in measuring international tourism (i.e. international tourist arrivals and international tourism receipts). The analysis is made at both the individual country and the OIC regional levels. The Report also sheds light on some issues and problems of tourism development and cooperation in the OIC countries and proposes a set of recommendations to serve as policy guidelines to which the attention of the member countries needs to be drawn.
During the Meeting, the Senior Officials examined the Strategic Plan for Development of Tourism in OIC Member States, which was developed by the OIC Second Experts Group Meeting on Tourism Development, held in May 2007 in Istanbul. The Meeting approved the document with amendments and changing its title as “Framework for Development and Cooperation in the Domain of Tourism between OIC Member States” and approved the Draft Resolution on Tourism Development. The Senior Officials also examined and approved the Draft Agenda and Work Programme of the Ministerial Sessions of the 5th ICTM.
After adopting the Agenda and Work Programme of the 5th ICTM, the Ministers considered and adopted the report of the Senior Officials, the Framework for Development and Cooperation in the Domain of Tourism between OIC Member States and the Draft Resolution on Tourism Development. In the general debate, statements were made by representatives of several member countries and the Conference took note of a number of issues and proposals raised during the discussion concerning the ways and means of strengthening cooperation among OIC countries in this vital field of economic and social activity. They also welcomed the offer of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran to host the Seventh Session of the ICTM in 2010.
In their Resolution on Tourism Development, the Ministers of Tourism paid tribute to the SESRIC for its valuable contributions to the sessions the ICTM and various OIC experts group meetings and seminars on tourism and entrusted it with the task of following-up the developments in this sector and reporting thereon to their next Session.
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