Tourism and SMEs: the keys to sustainable development in the Mediterranean
- Release date: 26 November 2012
- Reference: 2012-172-EN
The European Investment Bank (EIB) and the Association of the Mediterranean Chambers of Commerce and Industry (ASCAME), aware of the major role played by small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and the development of sustainable tourism for the economies of the Mediterranean countries to thrive, gave a strong signal in Marseille to small business leaders, key planners and financial partners in the tourist industry in Europe and the Mediterranean.
- A stronger partnership for businesses
Following on from their first Memorandum of Understanding (signed in November 2009 in Beirut), the EIB and ASCAME renewed their partnership for Mediterranean businesses: by sharing their responsibilities and the resources they deploy to support the private sector, the two partners intend to use their resources to meet the needs of project promoters and job creation initiatives as fully as possible. This enhanced partnership is fully in keeping with the EIB’s priority action in support of the private sector, to which the Bank has devoted a growing share of its activities in the Mediterranean (63% in 2011). In recent years the EIB has given 2 300 SMEs in the Mediterranean partner countries the benefit of its technical expertise and financial support, which has led to more than 30 000 jobs being created.
The agreement was signed today, Monday 26 November by EIB Vice-President Philippe de Fontaine Vive and ASCAME President Mohamed Choucair in the presence of Louis Aloccio, First Vice-President of the Marseille Provence Chamber of Commerce and Industry, at the Palais de la Bourse de Marseille.
- For sustainable tourism in the Mediterranean
Tourism is a key sector of the economy on the southern and eastern shores of the Mediterranean, where it employs directly and indirectly more than 20 million people and is the main source of foreign exchange for the non-oil-exporting countries. With its natural and cultural heritage, together with its favourable climate, the Mediterranean region is the world’s leading tourist destination and in 2010 accounted for some 11% of the GDP of the nine southern and eastern countries of the “common sea”.
Despite these advantages, the future of this sector is facing political and economic uncertainties that particularly highlight the need to modernise the policy regarding what this sector can offer in the southern Mediterranean countries and to create new financial instruments. From this point of view ecotourism is an obvious but ambitious solution, as it implies product diversification, making the most of the environmental and cultural advantages, and increasing the professionalism of the key players and service providers. Could this type of tourism provide a suitable response to market trends and the market’s potential? What would the advantages of this be and the appropriate financial instruments for developing it? These are just some of the questions that experts, and political and financial decision-makers, will be focusing on in their discussions at the 11th FEMIP Conference, which has been organised by the EIB in close collaboration with the Jordanian Minister for Tourism and Antiquities and ASCAME and is due to take place on 27 November 2012 in Parc Chanot in Marseille.
At the press conference held at the Marseille Provence Chamber of Commerce and Industry Mr de Fontaine Vive stated: “In the light of the economic and social difficulties facing the Mediterranean countries involved in the democratic transition process, it is crucial to create conditions that are conducive to investment and to support businesses in their sustainable development projects. Tourism is a key growth and employment sector for the future of these countries, calling for decision-makers, key players and financial partners to be effectively mobilised”. He added: “This 11th FEMIP Conference and the closer partnership with ASCAME demonstrate the desire of the European Union’s financial institution and the Euro-Mediterranean Network of Chambers of Commerce and Industry to provide practical support for those involved in tourism in their efforts to modernise and adapt to these new challenges.”
Mr Choucair pointed out that “tourism is the oil of the Mediterranean. Some countries exploit it as best they can, while others are still failing to make the most of this valuable resource. The partnership between ASCAME and the EIB must encourage greater mobilisation of economic actors in favour of sustainable tourism, which will create jobs and promote development”.