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Tourism & Cultural Exchanges

Tourism and Cultural Exchanges

It is often said that unforgettable journeys filled with life-changing experiences start in the Indian Ocean region. Bounded by Africa, the Middle East, Asia and Australia, the Indian Ocean Rim region prides itself with gorgeous beaches, magnificent turquoise waters, stunning islands, and breath-taking scenery, being frequently considered one of the most appealing marine destinations on Earth.


But that’s not all: the Indian Ocean region is also home to a melting pot of 2.5 billion beautiful people, one-third of the world's population, of diverse origins, cultures, languages and religions. One can see these influences at work throughout the realms of art, cuisine, music, dance, architecture, history, and more.


The economic relevance of tourism for the region makes harnessing its full potential essential for the advancement of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Managed well, tourism can play a positive role in the social, cultural, economic and environmental development of the region and as such represents a significant development opportunity for countries in the Indian Ocean region. On the other hand, unchecked tourism development can lead to damaging impacts on natural resources, consumption patterns, pollution and social systems. The need for sustainable planning and management is thus imperative for countries in the region to maximise the benefits of a positive and sustainable tourism sector.


IORA’s approach to Tourism and Cultural Exchanges

IORA promotes tourism and cultural exchanges by setting proposed policy directions for government cooperation and providing platforms for dialogue in promoting tourism amongst Member States, Dialogue Partners, and other international bodies. 


The Jakarta Concord adopted by the IORA Heads of State and Government in March 2017 commits to fostering tourism and cultural exchanges by:

  • increasing people-to-people interaction to promote regional economic growth;
  • encouraging the sustainable development of community-based tourism and eco-tourism;
  • promoting cultural heritage and harnessing the economic potential of this heritage, including World Heritage properties and sites;
  • cooperating and sharing experiences for the sustainable development of tourism; and
  • augmenting regional connectivity by encouraging direct flights and shipping services including cruises by encouraging investment in requisite infrastructure.

To achieve this, the IORA Member States developed the IORA Action Plan (2017-2021) which includes a set of specific and time-bound goals. 


Key wins for IORA so far:

  • The establishment of the Core Group on Tourism as a formal institutional mechanism of IORA and the adoption of its Workplan at the Second IORA Tourism Ministers held on 21-23 October 2018 in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. The Ministers’ meeting and the establishment of the Core Group has injected new energy into boosting tourism cooperation and exchange in the region;
  • The agreement to establish an IORA Tourism Resource Centre and Website (in progress);
  • The launch of “The IORA-Nelson Mandela Be the Legacy Programme” of young interns working at the IORA Secretariat to gain work experience to solidify the historical link that IORA has with the global icon, Nelson Mandela; 
  • Publishing Travel Notes on IORA cities hosting events and meetings; and
  • The launch of the IORA Secretariat’s Tourism Newsletter to showcase IORA tourism offerings and update the public on the work and activities of the Core Group on Tourism.   

  • 21-23
    Oct 2018
    2nd IORA Tourism Ministers’ Meeting for the Establishment of the IORA Core Group on Tourism
    Sun Boardwalk International Convention Centre, Port Elizabeth, South Africa
  • 06-08
    May 2018
    IORA Coastal and Marine Tourism Workshop and The 3rd IORA Tourism Experts Meeting
    Garden Court Marine Parade, Durban, South Africa
  • 03-04
    May 2017
    IORA Workshop on Sustainable Tourism Destination Management
    Pointe aux Piments, Republic of Mauritius
  • Declaration of the Indian Ocean Rim Association on shared principles for innovative, developmental and sustainable tourism in the Indian Ocean region
    21 Nov 2014