Beside established institutions such as UNWTO, WTTC or PATA, another institution for the development of tourism, the Commonwealth Tourism Centre emerged as a new international forum for tourism exchange and development.
“The Centre was born in 2004 but started only its activity in 2006, mainly thanks to generous funding from the Malaysian government,” explained CTC director general Abdul Rahman Shaari. “We do have a very small budget funded by Malaysia until the end of 2008. By maximizing our resource, we already achieved some results.”
However, the CTC seems to lack visibility for the consumer. What can be then the purpose of such an institution? The size of the covered area is far of being negligible: 53 countries (well, let’s say 52 following the temporary exclusion of Pakistan) totalling 1.8 billion citizens and all bound by the fact that they used to be part of the vast British Empire.
But, to Shari, this common colonial heritage is balanced by an extreme diversity of cultures, as the association embraces countries as opposed as Uganda, Papua New Guinea or the Bahamas under one roof. “We want in fact act more as a centre where we help each other developing tourism by sharing our experiences,” highlights Shaari.
Tourism investments, training, marketing strategies and tourism investments are high on the CTC agenda. “We have already organized seminars on sport tourism or conducted training courses on sustainable tourism, tourist guides. We also look to facilitate cooperation between NTOs in providing training of national tourist office staff on exchange,” adds Shaari. Malaysia – as CTC main source of funding – has of course been keen to get a high profile. The training course on strategies for a sustainable tourism development focused on the Malaysian experience.
The CTC seems now to be embarked into a more public relations exercise. At the recent WTM in London, the CTC launched a new coffee-table book entitled “Commonwealth Tourism: Common Heritage, Uncommon sights”. The 240-page book highlights tourism assets in the 53 countries, a “unique publication as it puts together nearly half the world’s land mass”, said during the launch Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan, Malaysia’s Minister of Tourism. CTC Director General commented that the production of a book of such a magnitude and breadth by the two-year old institution was extremely challenging but received a warm support from all Commonwealth members. The book will certainly help travellers to identify better the diversity of Commonwealth tourism and culture to a larger public but also help to wake up investors’ interests.