Member's Area
Indian Ocean Rim Association
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Tourism & Cultural Exchanges

Tourism and Cultural Exchanges


The tourism sector has tremendous potential in the Indian Ocean region. Substantial benefits could be accrued by Member States through the enhancement of tourist and marketing linkages within the region. Cultural exchanges contribute to the development of mutual understanding and goodwill, and open channels of communication that could serve the interests of Member States. 

Policy approach 

Tourism Policy 

Member States are to develop a common vision of the tourism sector as an engine of economic growth. The importance of tourism as a driver of economic growth is particularly acute in the case of LDCs and SIDS. Indeed, it is already perceived as an instrument for poverty reduction and fostering sustainable development in the United Nations Millennium Development Goals. 

It is crucial for Member States to strive towards regional cooperation in tourism, especially to achieve sustainable tourism growth in the region. The lack of regional cooperation inhibits tourism development in the Indian Ocean region. Member States must work out a consensus on how they are going to collaborate to increase tourism productivity and sustainability. There is a need to promote Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) and tourism business networks in the region and to develop regional projects. 

Tourism is a labour-force driven sector. Capacity building and workforce development should be included in the agenda of regional cooperation. Member states that are already established as successful tourist destinations can forge partnerships with emerging destinations in the Indian Ocean for quality tourism sector training. 

Joint marketing efforts by Tourism Authorities from Member States through trade fairs and workshops can be used to raise the tourism potential and the profile of the Indian Ocean. It is important to promote tourism not only at the global level but intra-regionally as well. 

Visa facilitation is a priority in order to increase tourist arrivals among the Member States. The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has mentioned that opening the region would definitely lead to growth in tourist arrivals and tourism businesses. 

Tourism research as well as sharing and exchanging tourism-related information is a must in order to deal with the global challenges. There is a definite lack of tourism studies in the Indian Ocean, be it academic or for other purposes. It is important to address this gap by developing a tourism database in order to anticipate new innovations, changes, trends, opportunities and challenges in tourism. The Indian Ocean Tourism Organisation (IOTO) needs to be expanded. It would also benefit from working in close collaboration with the UNWTO. 

Culture Policy 

The significant role of culture and heritage in societies must be recognized by Member States. Culture and heritage plays an important role in molding the daily lives, identities and values of individuals and societies. It is important to acknowledge the diverse cultures and heritage of the Indian Ocean rim and how they can be useful for its growth and development. 

Engaging with culture and heritage in IORA will contribute to sustainable development in Member States. UNESCO has repeatedly stressed how culture and heritage can contribute significantly to society through environmental protection, social capital and economic growth. 

Culture and heritage may be sustainably exploited for the tourism industry. The immense potential of Member States heritage and culture needs to be further developed for tourism use by involving the local community. This will lead to sustainable local development among Member States. 

Steps need to be taken to strengthen heritage management and capacity-building through cooperation among its Member States. The lack of heritage management skills as well as the fact that culture and heritage are being impacted by global phenomena must be acknowledged within IORA. It is important to address these issues in order to protect and conserve the rich and diverse cultural heritage with which the Indian Ocean region is endowed. 

Research in the cultural field in the Indian Ocean region needs to be intensified. There is a need to create an IORA culture and heritage database, so as to be able to grasp the challenges and opportunities connected with this area. 

Recent Events

Event Date Venue Document
Track Two Regional Workshop: "Intersection of Culture in 
the Indian Ocean Region" 
10-11 October 2016 Jakarta, Indonesia -
IORA Whale & Dolphin Watching Workshop on "Building
Sustainable Whale & Dolphin Watching Tourism in the
Indian Ocean Region 
24-26 February 2016 Colombo, Sri Lanka -
IORA Workshop on Cultural Tourism 18-19 October 2015 Padang, Indonesia -
Second IORA Tourism Meeting of Experts
(in the margins of INDABA 2015) 
09 May 2015 Durban, South Africa -
First IORA Tourism & Travel Mart 21-22 November 2014 Beau Vallon, Seychelles -
Women's Economic Empowerment on Tourism & Textiles 17-19 August 2014 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia -
IORA Core Group on Cultural Promotion 28-31 August 2014 Kochi, India -
Workshop on "Heritage Management among the countries 
in the Indian Ocean Region" 
5-6 May 2014 Colombo, Sri Lanka -
Core Group Meeting on Promoting Cultural Cooperation
amongst IORA Member States 
02 April 2012 Port Louis, Mauritius -