Tourism & Cultural Exchanges

Equalling approximately 20% of the world's ocean surface, the Indian Ocean connects Asia, Africa, Australia, and Antarctica, creating a unique convergence of products, peoples, culture, and technologies. This nexus serves as an important pivot in the development of community-based tourism and eco-tourism, the promotion of cultural heritage, and harnessing the economic potential of this heritage.  

At the heart of this lies the IORA Core Group on Tourism (CGT), which is a dedicated body tasked with enhancing the tourism profile and cooperation among Member States. The CGT serves as the vehicle for the implementation for IORA Member States’ actions/objectives (Workplan) in cooperation with IORA Dialogue Partners. The main objective of the CGT is to enhance tourism profile and cooperation in the region and to contribute to sustainable tourism development in Member States. This includes:   

  • the development of comprehensive tourism strategies   
  • the promotion of collaboration among stakeholders    
  • the advancement of sustainable tourism practices   

The CGT serves as a cornerstone of sustainable development and regional cooperation. It aims to drive economic growth, preserve cultural heritage, and protect the environment, thereby ensuring that tourism development in the region is both impactful and sustainable. 

Central to the Core Group's efforts is the development of a tourism work plan, which serves as a roadmap for: 

  • Promoting regional tourism cooperation 
  • Facilitating improved travel processes  
  • Fostering the development of quality tourism destinations 
  • Showcasing unique attractions and experiences offered by Member States 
  • Highlighting the region's cultural diversity, natural beauty, and rich heritage 
  • Capturing the imagination of travellers 
  • Harnessing the contribution of science and technology 
  • Embracing cutting-edge technologies and innovative solutions 
  • Enhancing the visitor experience,  
  • Improving destination management 
  • Addressing sustainability challenge  
  • Transforming the tourism landscape in the Indian Ocean region 


The current Chair of the Core Group on Tourism is the Republic of Kenya, which assumed the position in January 2024. Mauritius served as Chair till last year and played a key role in guiding and steering the activities of the Core Group towards achieving its objectives. 

Past Events
2 Virtual Conferences hosted by IORA and Centre d'Etude et de Découverte des Tortues Marines (CEDTM) – La Reunion on the Revitalisation of the IORA Whale and Dolphin Watching Network (Dates TBC)  
Establishment of the Tourism Resource Centre, La Reunion
IORA Workshop to raise awareness of coastal and marine protection and conservation issues and its importance to the Blue Economy, 31 October – 2 November 2023, Penang, Malaysia
Launch of Report on Tourism and Women’s Economic Empowerment in the Indian Ocean (IO) region
Fourth Meeting of the Core Group on Tourism, 05 May 2023, Balaclava, Mauritius
Workshop on Nature-Based Tourism & Lessons Learned from COVID-19, 03-05 May 2023, Balaclava, Mauritius
IORA Webinar on “Capacity-Building for Women-owned and-led Tourism Businesses in the Indian Ocean Region for post-COVID recovery, 16 March 2023
A sustainable tourism region in the Indian Ocean rim that supports the socio-economic well-being and development of the Member States of IORA.
Purpose & Objectives

The main objective of the IORA Tourism Core Group is to enhance tourism profile and cooperation in the region and to contribute to sustainable tourism development in Member States. The specific objectives are as follows: 

  1. To develop the tourism sector in the IORA region through tourism cooperation among IORA Member States;  
  2. To promote regional tourism cooperation through networking of its stakeholders; 
  3. To create a tourism work plan; 
  4. To oversee and monitor the implementation of the work plan; 
  5. To promote the development of public-private partnership in tourism; 
  6. To promote the Indian Ocean region as a competitive tourism destination; 
  7. To promote improved travel facilitation in the region; 
  8. To promote the development of quality tourism destinations; 
  9. To encourage tourism capacity-building programs; 
  10. To promote the contribution of science, technology and innovation in tourism;  
  11. To identify linkages and synergies and, where appropriate, to contribute to other IORA Core/Working Groups; 
  12. To explore the options and benefits of cruise and other diversified tourism offering in the IORA region; 
  13. To promote tourism investment in the Indian Ocean region; and 
  14. To encourage IORA Dialogue Partners support into IORA programs and projects 
Ms Zelda Vrolick
Ms Kritika N Nuckchady
Programme Officer