Yes to tourism as an engine of growth – but make sure it’s sustainable!

Sustainable tourism
Promotion of tourism is an effective activity in international development cooperation. The potential to create new jobs is great, not only in the tourism sector per se but also in other sectors down- and upstream. Swisscontact has nearly 20 years of experience in promoting tourism in developing countries and emerging economies. The highest priority for Swisscontact in these projects is to ensure the social and environmental sustainability of tourism projects. This know-how will benefit four new projects that Swisscontact will implement over the next few years.

Morocco: soft tourism in the Atlas Mountains

Mandated by the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO), Swisscontact is supporting sustainable tourism in the Moroccan provinces of Azilal and Beni Mellal through 2025. This region is located in the high Atlas Mountains and offers much to visitors who prefer soft tourism: red mountains, refreshing lakes, streams and waterfalls, sweet-smelling cedar forests, and historic monuments. The project objective is to reduce poverty in the region, as well as to create new sources of income and improve existing jobs. Women and youth are the main target beneficiaries.

Swisscontact is supporting both provinces in their efforts to develop an integrated tourism approach. Swisscontact employees will help local stakeholders to establish a coordination platform, as well as to improve tourism products and services. Project activities will also include training qualified tourism professionals.

Tunisia: moving away from mass tourism

For most people, tourism in Tunisia brings to mind big hotel complexes located directly by the sea. Thus, the government would like to diversify the country’s image. In 2015-2019, Swisscontact already implemented a project for SECO to strengthen the Dahar region. Now, two new projects will benefit from the foundation’s experiences in destination management and marketing:

  1. On behalf of SECO, Swisscontact first will raise the profile of the cultural heritage found in and around Djerba. Second, the project is developing strategies in environmental protection in and around the Ksahr Ghilane Oasis, which is considered an entryway to the Sahara. To improve tourism products and services on offer in a sustainable manner, the project plans to train young people and provide further education in collaboration with tour operators.  The objective is sustainable, diversified, and integrated tourism that will enhance the attractiveness of Tunisia’s Southeast while improving the local population’s income and living conditions.
  2. The objective of the second tourism project in Tunisia is also to diversify the sector. It intends to create favourable conditions to establish regional destination management organisations (DMO). For this to succeed, for example, the project will create four DMOs. All kinds of tourism service providers and their employees will benefit from this initiative. This project will be implemented by Swisscontact on behalf of the German International Development Organisation (GIZ).

Switzerland: a dialogue about the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals

Swisscontact’s know-how in the development of sustainable tourism is also in demand in Switzerland. SECO would like to increase the Swiss tourism sector’s contribution to the UN’s sustainable development goals. A moderated dialogue will allow stakeholders in Swiss tourism to get informed about sustainability in tourism, exchange ideas and initiatives both domestically and internationally, and come up with new project ideas together. 

Swisscontact is coordinating this dialogue within a consortium constituted by gutundgut, ecos, the University of Applied Sciences of the Grisons, myclimate, the Swiss Parks Network, the Swiss Tourism Federation (Schweizer Tourismusverband, STV) and the Swiss Travel Association (Schweizer Reise-Verband, SRV).