The WestMED Assistance Mechanism is promoting a series of webinars in partnership with BlueMed initiative aimed at bringing stakeholders in the Mediterranean together to address common challenges and support the development of sustainable blue growth. The intention behind this collaboration is to create increasing synergies between the two initiatives.
A first webinar was organised by BlueRoSES, Mistral and BlueMed and included the participation of the WestMED AM on 10 November 2020 wherein the webinar focused on the provision of ICT services for post Covid 19 blue tourism in the Mediterranean region. A second event on strengthening ties and opportunities with Southern Partners was held on 15th December. It was hosted by WestMED to allow for the showcasing of a few BlueMed projects focusing in particular on opportunities that can be reaped by the Southern partners in the Western Mediterranean.
Objectives of the webinar
The WestMED Initiative focuses on local and reginal challenges in the Western Mediterranean and allows for the sharing of opportunities through the matching of stakeholders and provides support in the development of successful projects. Towards this end, the Westmed, in collaboration with the Bluemed which also seeks to support and coordinate research in order to build sustainable blue growth, organised the workshop in order to allow stakeholders to engage in an initial brainstorming session on gaps and opportunities emerging from the results, best practices and lessons learned from projects within the dimension of coastal and maritime tourism.
The general objective of the webinar was to investigate some pivotal areas for further project development and support the exchange between existing projects and a broader range of sectoral stakeholders across the western Mediterranean – and the Mediterranean at large. Additionally, the event provided the opportunity to identify useful elements for future discussions on future projects taking in due consideration the existing ones and building on the outcomes and lessons of the existing projects.
Specifically, the webinar provided a venue for projects to be showcased but more importantly it focused on how the lessons learnt from these project can be extended to the Southern partners in the Mediterranean. Indeed, the second part of the webinar allowed Southern partners to discuss the relevance of the presented practices for the Southern Mediterranean as well as identify any other areas which are critical for project development in the Southern Mediterranean.
Main elements discussed
The discussion during the webinar was focused on the following elements:
- The risks and challenges faced by the tourism sector in the Mediterranean which are common risks requiring common and joint solutions.
- Greater emphasis is required on collaboration, not only across project partners, through the implementation of projects, but also across platforms such as that which has been undertaken by the Westmed and Bluemed for this event.
- Lessons which can be extended to Southern partners range from the application of methodologies which can be replicated, learning on how to effectively engage stakeholders and the transfer of knowledge.
- Specific to the tourism sector, the discussion focused on how the tourism product can be diversified particularly in light of recent challenges and risks, the use of ICT particularly with the onset of challenges brought about by Covid as well as the importance of development sustainable and resilient sector, one which can withstand the incidence of shocks which are likely to continue to be faced by the sector. Towards this end, the vulnerability of the sector was noted wherein some of the variables which lead to the vulnerability of the sector, are common factors across the Mediterranean. This provides scope in learning from the outcomes of projects which have been focusing on building a flexible and yet resilient tourism sector in the Mediterranean.
The participation of CPMR and Interreg, both of which provided an overview of activities which are relevant for the Southern partners in the Western Mediterranean provided the basis for follow up ideas including:
- The promotion of workshops on the development of a Sustainable Tourism Manual which can be applied by a number of players in the tourism sector within the Western Mediterranean.
- Supporting key projects which provide a sound basis for lessons which can be applied to different stakeholders. This should be an essential component of funded projects to ensure that the benefits drawn from these projects are extended.
- Development of a sustainable tourism observatory among the Southern partners of the Western Mediterranean which can serve as an extension of the BestMed project which focuses on data management for sustainable tourism in order to ensure better governance in the Mediterranean.Promoting the involvement and participation of southern stakeholders in projects.