The international roundtable on Tourism as leverage for socio-economic development in Reunion Island will take place in Reunion Island from 27-30 November 2011
In June 2010, a International peer-to-peer review (INTA Panel) was organized by INTA, at the request of CBO Territoria (private developer).
The final conclusion of the expert report was as follows:
"At a time when local growth is slowing down, at Reunion and national levels, when unemployment begins to rise significantly, with an unbalanced economic model that requires finding new sources of growth in the short and medium term, tourism sector has the answers adapted to local needs:
- Valorisation of local resources and harnessing external spending to achieve a sustainable economic autonomy,
- Return to strong direct and indirect jobs, with a variety of skill levels required in response to the situation of local employment.
Facing the foreseeable exhaustion of the system of social harmony on the island, tourism is the last pillar after exhausting other means to develop. Tourism is therefore a priority and strategic area for all local stakeholders. Tshe Reunion people themselves see tourism, by far, as the development pipeline the most credible for the island.
As with all complex and multi-actors projects, where the key is to take action, it is to have a pilot both political and technical, assigned to the Region to boost operational working platforms (supply / demand), bringing together stakeholders with an action plan and realistic goals and regularly assessed on the progress of the results. "
Since March 2010, the Regional Council has launched a new economic policy on tourism, as primary engine for regional development. The new economic policy requires a more coherent and better coordination of the numerous operators in the tourism chain.
To achieve these objectives, the Regional Council has designed a concerted tourism policy around several axes:
- A strong promotion based on partnership, mainly led by the IRT (Regional Tourism Board),
- Supporting actively the tourism industry through adequate training and qualification,
- An enhanced offer of accommodation,
- Enhancing of the natural and cultural heritage of the island,
- A process reinforced by the introduction of a new operational framework for Regional aid.
The listing of the Heart of La Reunion Island as UNESCO World Heritage can, and should be, a great accelerator of development at three levels:
- Vector of shared political and governance solidarity
- Vector of public support for sustainable development,
- Vector of networking between different actors in the tourism industry.
However, in a context of rapid technical developments, including those related to digital innovation, professional and tourism stakeholders need support to adapt their activity to more demanding and volatile consumers, shorter length of stay, stiffer competition, scarcity of land for tourism projects, and to the belief that the future of tourism is more than ever dependent on innovation.
OBJECTIVE AND SHORT AND MEDIUM TERM ACTION PLAN
The goal for 2015 is to significantly increase revenues related to tourism and to create direct and indirect jobs, either by increasing the number of travellers or by a qualitative leap in the products offered to targeted customers, the two approaches being complementary. The objective of 600,000 visitors is a collective challenge to meet.
La Reunion is at a strategic crossroads that engages the island for the next 10 years, through the adoption of two master plans, which will be mandatory: the regional master plan scheme and the Charter of the National Park, to become the guiding principles for the management of the UNESCO listed area.
Therefore, how to match the master plans and the demographic, economic and social challenges of Reunion?
The questions that arise are very concrete and need pragmatic answer:
- What is the tourism policy adapted to the current context of economic and social crisis?
- What are the existing and emerging levers, to create added value?
- What operational plan in the short and medium terms?
- How to act quickly?
The International Roundtable has therefore focused on how to built on the many pillars of sustainable development the favourable conditions for reconciling public support, environmental protection and economic development of La Reunion.
Foreign experiences and the presence of international experts allowed comparisons helping to outline practical guidelines to be implemented, some of them in a short term, others by 2015 and have facilitated to anticipate future developments.
Professionals from public and private sector have participated in the different sessions.
It was proposed to review the recommendations made by the Panel in 2010, to reformulate, amend and complete them to reach a 3-5 years operational action plan.
See the experts' profiles here.
THEMES AND PROGRAMME
Three themes addressed each of them followed by workshops to go deeper on the critical issues raised during the debate after which conclusions will be made public.
Theme 1: Making the tourism sector as an accelerator for regional economic development: new markets, new demands, new products...
Under what conditions an island territory can make tourism the basis of its development policy? What is the impact of major tourism projects and how to be complementary between the sub regions?
Animators: Philippe FABING & Michel SUDARSKIS
2 local speakers: Pascal VIROLEAU (IRT = regional tourism board) and Philippe JEAN PIERRE (University)
2 INTA speakers: Lionel BECHEREL and Dick BLIEK
2 local discussants: Danièle LE NORMAND (Museum) et Catherine FRECAUT (Travel agency)
2 INTA discussants: Carlos SANTOS, Asta THORLEIFSDOTTIR
Theme 2: Regional Tourism Policy: conditions of success
Professionalization and appropriation by local stakeholders and population; regional partnerships and alliances...
Animators: Philippe FABING & Michel SUDARSKIS
2 local speakers: David LORION (V.Pdt Region) , Katherine CHATEL ( President Club of Tourism)
2 INTA speakers: Asta THORLEIFSDOTTIR and Simon MILNE
2 local discussants: Virginie K'BIDY (V.Pdt Region), Christian WOLFF (hotel owner)
2 INTA discussants: Wouter de WAAL, Lionel BECHEREL
Theme 3: Institutional Innovation and Governance Solidarity
Role of public and private training, marketing, mobilization of local resources, networking, commitment and new governance.
Animators : Philippe FABING & Michel SUDARSKIS
2 local speakers: Catherine DOSTES (IRT, creator of the concept of "Villages Creoles) (Univ), Bruno SAUSSEAU (FRT)
2 INTA speakers: Carlos SANTOS, Wouter de WAAL
2 local discussants: Isabelle GROSSET (Entre Deux), Philippe DOKI THONON (UMIH)
2 INTA discussants: Simon MILNE, Dick BLIEK