Accounting for 10% of national GDP, tourism is a key driver of economic growth in Tunisia, however, most incoming tourists do not visit for ecotourism, despite the rich and diverse natural destinations that the country offers. When it comes to ecotourism options, this Mediterranean country has untapped potential.
The Regional Activity Center for Sustainable Consumption and Production (SCP/RAC) through the EU funded SwitchMed Programme and UNCTAD have launched a new initiative to build linkages between ecotourism providers and tour operators in Europe. With support from SwitchMed and UNCTAD experts, national green and circular businesses in the sector will enter into concrete export agreements with European retailers and intermediaries to facilitate the commercialization of their sustainable products, thus increasing the export possibilities for green businesses.
“The demand for sustainable tourism continues to increase in the European travel industry and initiatives like this show UNCTAD’s commitment to continue to facilitate green exports for increasingly sustainable and inclusive trade in the Mediterranean countries”, said Teresa Moreira, Head of UNCTAD’s Trade, Environment, Climate Change and Sustainable Development Branch.
Enhancing market opportunities for ecotourism operators
During its first phase, the initiative will focus on identifying national eco-entrepreneurs and companies called “Switchers” throughout the entire Tunisian ecotourism value chain and international retailers and intermediaries. Subsequently, a second phase will connect those selected businesses to tour operators in Europe.
The project also aims to help companies enrich and diversify their tourism products including by collaborating with other actors of the tourism sector or of rural communities. It will also serve to encourage other businesses at the national level to develop similar models based on sectorial partnerships and to develop or integrate into a sustainable and inclusive supply chain.
“One of the main barriers for The Switchers to scale-up their businesses is their very limited access to international markets. Our objective is to fill this gap by ensuring deals with international tour operators and intermediaries”, said Burcu Tunçer, Team Leader of Networking and Partnerships at the SCP/RAC – SwitchMed.
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