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Marseille, Villa Mediterranée, 7 November 2014
For several decades, the Mediterranean rim has been considered as the number one tourist destination world-wide and tourism constitutes a key sector for social and economic development in the region. Despite the continuing tensions in certain countries, tourism remains a vital source of economic growth and essential for job creation across the Mediterranean. Between 2000 and 2010, the number of arrivals from abroad has doubled (from 34 million to 79 million) in the Middle-East North Africa (MENA) region thereby making it the tourist destination with the strongest growth in the world. In 2011, the tourism sector generated 107.30 billion dollars, equivalent to 4.5% of the total GDP of the MENA region. This sector also represents 4.5 million jobs (accounting for 6.75% of the total jobs). Recent studies confirm that 2014 has seen a strong improvement in the performance of North Africa (+6 %). Morocco is the first African destination to have exceeded 10 million international arrivals (+7 %); while Tunisia continues its recovery (+5 %).
Although seaside tourism constitutes the dominant model in several countries of the Southern rim of the Mediterranean, numerous initiatives have been introduced to showcase the cultural and patrimonial richness of these countries, through, namely, the rehabilitation of several Medinas and archeological sites, often with the support of international stakeholders and the involvement of the population. Recently, new forms of tourism (green tourism, medical tourism, business tourism, etc.) have consolidated the offer diversification, responding to, among other thing, the evolution of the demand.
In order to explore the economic, environmental, social and cultural dimensions of tourism on both sides of the Mediterranean, the Center for Mediterranean Integration (CMI) and the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur Region organize a high-level conference on 7 November 2014 at the Villa Méditerranée in Marseille on “Tourism in the Mediterranean: Driving Integrated and Sustainable Development, Enhancing Heritage and Cultural Exchanges”. This event will take place during the Semaine Economique de la Méditerranée and will be an opportunity to inform the debate on the challenges and issues linked to the development of tourism in the region through concrete examples of public policies and through the formulation of operational recommendations. The objective will be to analyze the challenges linked to this new way of approaching tourism and culture in order to explore the different ideas developed and to attempt to address them through knowledge production, expert perspectives, and the voices of the civil society.