Two regional conferences on tourism communications (TOURCOM) will be staged in Bamako, Mali, for Africa and the other in Rosario, Argentina, for the Americas.The first event will be organized from 10 to 11 May by the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), in cooperation with the Malian Ministry of Handicraft and Tourism and will follow the UNWTO Regional Commission meeting.
The majority of the region’s tourism ministers are expected to participate both as speakers or delegates, as are a number of Africa’s prominent journalists, industry leaders, representatives of destination management organizations, international organizations and educators, in all more than 200 participants, opinion leaders and decision makers, from all over Africa and some from Europe.
The Conference will also serve to promote Mali , with its magnificent UNESCO-listed monuments in Timbuktu and Djenné at the edge of the Sahara , as an increasingly successful tourist destination.
A similar event, but adapted to the Americas, will be staged from 28-30 May 2006 in cooperation with the Argentinean Government in Rosario, in the province of Santa Fe. The Argentinean co-organizers expect around 500 to 600 participants from Canada to Tierra del Fuego.
TOURCOM Conferences convey a clear message: professional communications among all stakeholders in tourism, efficient media relations, improved promotion and crisis management capacity are all in service of the development of international tourism.
This is the most promising economic branch and for many it is a way of life and a path towards enhanced international cooperation and peace.
“The media,” said one of the speakers at the TOURCOM Middle East and North Africa, last October in Amman , Jordan , “are an equally important partner of destinations to tour operators and airlines”.
The Conferences aim to summarize best practices in the design and implementation of tourism communications applied to tourism destinations and their suppliers, both private and public, and the methods of work, which the news media contribute to the international tourism process.
They provide an opportunity for key and middle-level decision-makers concerned with managing destinations and companies to discuss substantial issues and seek answers and solutions to the following questions:
? How do successful destinations communicate their tourism product to the media? What is the role of the public sector in this process?
? How do the public and private sectors jointly and efficiently pitch to the media?
? Whom are they talking to?
? How does a destination organise a communications department?
? Who speaks on behalf a destination?
? What kind of messages do the news media, i.e. the journalists, really want and need?
? How do both, communicators and the media, respond to the ethical issues?
? What are do’s and don’ts in public relations, domestic awareness campaigns and advertising?
? Is public (media) relations enough and can they substitute advertising?
? Can a destination (or a company in supply chain) use humour in their communications and to what extent?
? How closely linked are tourism communications with local culture and how do they address recipients belonging to completely different cultures?
? What have we learned from recent negative events such terrorist attacks, tsunami, health threats and political instability?
? When do crisis communications start and do they exist also in the time of tourism boom?
? What do the end consumers like to hear and how do we get the message across to them?
? How should a destination, recently emerged from a crisis situation, such as war or a long period of political instability, communicate?
? How can governments be persuaded to invest more funds in tourism communications?
? How do destinations brand themselves and is branding at all possible or necessary in the international tourist markets?
Participants learn about international trends, best experiences, mistakes to be avoided, and priorities on which to focus.
Government and industry representatives from all participating countries will be invited to share their own views, experiences and plans regarding quality objectives and management in tourism communications.
The TOURCOM Conference permits the inclusion of questions and answers on existing tools and imported case studies, and workshops on regional issues.
Another TOURCOM conference is planned for the year 2006, namely for East Europe and Central Asia . It will be held upon a kind invitation of the Government of Georgia in its capital Tbilisi .