U.S. State Department Geographic Bureaus: Near East and North Africa Bureau

U.S. Department of State
95/10/25 Fact Sheet: Mid-East-Mediterranean Travel/Tourism
Bureau of Public Affairs

Fact Sheet
Middle East-Mediterranean Travel and Tourism Association

On September 29, 1995, Cypriot, Egyptian, Jordanian, Israeli, Moroccan, Palestinian, Tunisian, and Turkish representatives initialed a charter to establish the Middle East-Mediterranean Travel and Tourism Association (MEMTTA). This charter was developed under the auspices of the Regional Economic Development Working Group (REDWG) of the Multilateral Middle East Peace Process and was the culmination of an initiative taken at the Casablanca Middle East/North Africa Economic Summit in October 1994. At that landmark meeting, public and private representatives from the Middle East and North Africa, along with those from the U.S. and others from around the world, agreed to establish a regional tourist board for the Middle East and North Africa. The charter will be signed at the second Middle East/North Africa Economic Summit to be held in Amman, Jordan, on October 29-31, 1995.

MEMTTA'S Regional Role

MEMTTA is an association for the Middle East, Eastern Mediterranean, Gulf States, and North Africa. Its primary mission is to increase environmentally sustainable travel to and within the region and to develop the tourism industry serving the region. MEMTTA is a new kind of public-private partnership that unites government and private sector organizations in a common effort to make possible the movement of people across borders to visit on business and pleasure. Governments constitute MEMTTA's policy making body while the private sector manages the organization's activities. This dual public-private organizational structure is also designed so that the private sector providers of travel services can recommend practical measures for reducing travel barriers to government policy makers who are concerned with realizing the full regional potential for travel and tourism.

MEMTTA'S Global Role

MEMTTA is a global organization. In order to harness the world's largest industry as a regional economic engine, its membership includes organizations located everywhere in the world that are engaged in sending travelers to the Middle East/Mediterranean region. The common denominator of membership--whether within the region or in the three extra-regional divisions of Pacific Asia, Europe, and the Americas--is an interest in realizing the Middle East-Mediterranean region's large travel potential.

U.S. Involvement

Over the past year, both the public and private sectors in the U.S. helped facilitate the establishment of MEMTTA and the Department of State participated actively in the meetings that led to the conclusion of a charter. The Department also provides technical assistance for the association by funding a facilitator to help create MEMTTA and its division for the Americas. The U.S. private sector also helped draft the association's charter, and the World Travel and Tourism Council supported this effort.

As peace takes root in the Middle East, tourism to the region should increase dramatically. At an expected increase of 6% per annum, the annual expansion of tourism to the region could be double the world growth rate. This represents enormous opportunities for investment in hotels, transport, entertainment, and the restaurant business and promises a tourism boom.

MEMTTA provides a unique chance for U.S. tourism companies to benefit from this growth by participating in a regional tourism association, including recommending practical measures for reducing travel barriers and seeking new opportunities for business in the region.

Prospective U.S. members and press are invited to contact the MEMTTA Facilitator, Cord Hansen-Sturm (Tel: 1-212-877-4389) in New York City.

Key Points of MEMTTA's Charter


Members of the Association:

-- Recognize the importance of achieving a just, lasting, and comprehensive peace in the Middle East and of supporting the peace process;

-- Desire to demonstrate through economic cooperation the tangible benefits of a comprehensive peace in the Middle East;

-- Recognize that travel and tourism will play an important role in deepening cooperation and mutual understanding in the region;

-- Emphasize the prominent role of the private sector in the development and promotion of travel and tourism in the region;

-- Recognize that the travel and tourism industry in the region holds enormous economic potential; and

--Recognize the need to ensure that the principles of sustainable development are respected.

Objectives and Activities

To facilitate regional cooperation in developing the travel and tourism industry serving the region and marketing the region as a tourism destination, the association shall:

-- Carry out destination marketing activities, including augmenting and assisting promotional and developmental efforts of the members through the collection and dissemination of information and encouragement of transactions through computerized reservation systems and all forms of electronic and other media;

-- Provide an instrument for close collaboration among the public and private sectors on tourism issues;

-- Help integrate the region into global tourism networks;

-- Provide education and training for human resource development, research, in these areas;

-- Encourage relevant public and private, regional and extra-regional, organizations to cooperate in harmonizing laws, regulations, and standards related to tourism;

-- Help mobilize resources to support the development of the tourism industry in the region; and

-- Help establish a data bank that will serve all member and other interested parties.

October 25, 1995

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