More than 300 participants convened in Tunis for the 4th UNWTO International Conference on ‘Tourism and the Media’. The event, held in cooperation with the Ministry of Tourism and Handicrafts of Tunisia, counted with the support of CNN International.
Over twenty countries were represented at the 4th UNWTO International Conference ‘Tourism and the Media’ that took place in Tunis under the patronage of the Ministry of Tourism and Handicrafts of Tunisia.
«The creation of new partnerships between tourism and media is an excellent opportunity for dialogue. Tourism, as does the media, has the noble mission of making people travel around the world, bringing cultures closer together and promoting the values of tolerance and solidarity ” said the Minister of Tourism and Handicrafts of Tunisia, Salma Elloumi Rekik.
“Media constitute major stakeholders for the tourism sector, not only in terms of disseminating information, but also with regard to connecting with the public to promote a better understanding of the sector and the principles of sustainable tourism development.” said UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai, opening the Conference.
Talking about Tunisia he added “Tunisia is an example to the world in the way it is consolidating its democracy, as recognized by the recent award of the Nobel Peace Prize to the National Dialogue Quartet. Tunisia is also a destination of excellence and a long-term leader in the region and the world. We at UNWTO are fully confident in the ability of Tunisia’s tourism sector to overcome the current challenges and regain momentum”.
“Accuracy, responsibility and transparency are the framework in which we, the journalists, should operate,” said Jim Bittermann, CNN anchor and key note speaker at the Conference.
Bridging the gap
Sanam Shantyaei, from France 24, emphasized that “journalists need to be approached by those working in the tourism sector in an appropriate manner and with adequate resources as media constitutes the main channel to the general public.”
In that sense, the impact of media was underlined by most of the speakers, like Taieb Zahar, Director of the Tunisian magazine ‘Réalités’ who stated that “the work of journalists currently has a great impact in the image and positioning of countries.”
Communicating in times of crisis was also addressed during the Conference with participants stressing the need for professional coverage but also access to information and facilitation of resources from tourism authorities in a timely manner.
In that regard, Mr Richard Barnes, Editor-in-Chief at Cleverdis gave some recommendations to parties involved in the tourism sector. “Tourism authorities should look to the different channels to reach media, not only through press releases, for instance. If they communicate with the tourism agencies, they will reach also the general public and this will be a great plus for the country,” he said.
As the Conference aimed at fostering a new framework of interaction with the media, a number of recommendations were emphasized through the different debates and exchanges. Among those, “be credible, close, on target, available, transparent, realistic, a facilitator, useful to and respectful of the media angle” were underlined.
“Media is the best partner that you can have, so do not be afraid of the media as journalists are the best catalyzer of your work”, concluded Mr Taleb Rifai, UNWTO Secretary General closing the event.