The Second IORA Tourism Ministerial Meeting was held on 23 October 2018 in Nelson Mandela Bay, Eastern Cape Province, South Africa. The Meeting was attended by IORA Tourism Ministers, a Deputy Minister, Senior Officials from 13 Member States, and from two Dialogue Partners who gathered to implement one of the flagship initiatives of the five-year IORA Action Plan (2017-2021) on the Establishment of the IORA Tourism Core Group.
The Ministerial Meeting was preceded by an Experts Meeting held on 21-22 October 2018 where the Terms of Reference for the IORA Tourism Core Group and the Work Plan were finalised.
The main objective of the establishment of an IORA Tourism Core Group is to enhance tourism cooperation in the region and to contribute to the economic development in Member States. The specific objectives include; the development of tourism cooperation; enhance networking; develop public-private partnerships; marketing of the Indian Ocean as a competitive tourism destination; regional tourism liberalization; enhance the region’s tourism profile; and to encourage capacity building in the industry.
H.E. Mr D Hanekom, Minister of Tourism of South Africa, highlighted that in all the developmental efforts, IORA should not lose sight of the significance of conserving these resources in order to continue to reap the benefits for both current and future generations. He emphasised that the Member States can only do that by promoting and implementing responsible tourism principles.
Ambassador Dr N Nokwe, Secretary-General of IORA, stressed that for Member States to optimally utilise the tremendous tourism potential of the Indian Ocean region, they will have to pool their efforts, cooperate and learn from each other, including from the Dialogue Partners, to ensure that tourism as a priority area will effectively contribute to balanced economic growth in the region.
At the conclusion of the Ministerial Meeting, the Ministers and representatives of Member States adopted three outcome documents namely; the Terms of Reference for the IORA Tourism Core Group, the Work Plan for the IORA Tourism Core Group, and the IORA-Nelson Mandela Bay Declaration. The Declaration conveys the commitments made by Member States to enhance the tourism profile and cooperation in the Indian Ocean region to contribute to sustainable tourism development, by not only elevating the importance of tourism, but also to contribute to the Association’s primary objective – to improve the lives of the people throughout the region.