The 6th Mediterranean Tourism Forum
The Mediterranean Tourism Foundation (MTF) organized its 6th annual forum with great success at InterContinental Malta on 15 February. The Mediterranean Tourism Forum which has become one of the most important and influential tourism summits of the Mediterranean region hosted 1200 participants, 250 delegates from more than 30 countries this year. Gathering diverse stakeholders in the industry, the conference provided excellent opportunity to learn from one another, and to build up partnerships and more importantly friendships.
The President of Malta, Her Excellency Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca who is also the Patron of the Mediterranean Tourism Forum gave an informative and uplifting speech at the opening ceremony of the Mediterranean Stars conference by drawing attention to sustainable development and the global peace-building potential of the tourism industry through a philosophy of togetherness: “I believe that the tourism industry is an influential contributor to create and sustain global peace and that it is so essential for us to work together as one Mediterranean family of nations, because we are natural collaborators and not competitors. I propose that we work together, as a united industry to explore the possibilities of such regional strategies for resilience, innovation and sustainable development.”
Pointing out to the increasingly precarious situation of heavy reliance on the sun and beach tourism, Her Excellency also called attention to the importance of diversifying the Mediterranean tourism: “It is necessary to implement a strategy for smoothly transforming the mainstream touristic activities into alternative and more sustainable tourism opportunities, such as environmental and cultural initiatives.”
Following the opening, the panel discussions covering topics such as Mediterranean Tourism Identity, Decoding the Future of Travel & Tourism Experience, Smart Tourism Sector, and Sustaining & Coping with the Tourism Growth were held and hosted many of the prominent figures of today’s tourism industry. Among the speakers were the Ministers of Tourism Elena Kountoura (Greece), Edmund Bartlett (Jamaica), Dr. Konrad Mizzi (Malta), the former UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai, Princess of Jordan, HRH Dana Firas and the former Prime-Minister of Italy, Matteo Renzi.
One of the most interesting topics in the conference was the use of technology as an enabler in the industry. Besides the smart city and smart nation concepts, apparently, the adaptation of the blockchain technology which is mostly referred to the cryptocurrency, but actually is beyond that will stretch across the industry. An interesting mobile application called Minar using Augmented Reality (AR) technology was also presented at the forum. The app basically motivates the tourist to move different zones of a destination to collect digital coins which later on could be used in exchange of service and goods. This application demonstrated that an expanding problem of over tourism may be alleviated by AR technologies. It is obvious that technology is becoming more and more crucial for the rapidly growing tourism industry.
On the other hand, the essential need for having agendas for a greener future in order to satisfy today’s more environmentally friendly tourists and the rising sub-sector of wellness and wellbeing were highlighted during the discussions. Moreover, five educational masterclasses were organized on topics of Mediterranean Women in Tourism, The Mediterranean Astronaut, Top Hotel Revenue Management Talent, Smart Nations Concepts, Attracting Investment and Finance.
The Mediterranean Tourism Forum ended with a wonderful concert at the Mediterranean Conference Centre. The concert was given by the Mediterranean Orchestra which is one of the latest projects of MTF. Directed by the Maestro Bruno Santori, the orchestra played with the world-famous singers from different countries of the region and represented a heart-warming harmony of colorful sounds evoking the consciousness of being one Mediterranean family.
The Mediterranean Tourism Foundation also held a prize-giving ceremony at the break of the concert. The foundation rewarded those who had significant contributions to today’s Mediterranean Tourism. Turkey became the Mediterranean Star of the night after having two prize-winners. MTF honoured Mr. Hüseyin Kurtoğulları the connoisseur of Turkish Tourism World with the Akdeniz Award. Besides, Mr. Delal Atamdede the President of ATURJET (FIJET Turkiye) was the winner of the Great Sea Award. Leading to the succeeding Turkish national association of the distinguished World Federation of Tourism Writers and Journalist (FIJET), Atamdede had accomplished bringing in two Golden Apple Awards to Turkey in the last two years.