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    • The Meeting of the ECO Tourism Transport Task Force
      The Meeting of the ECO Tourism Transport Task Force
      Meeting of the ECO Tourism Transport Task Force was held in virtual format on 12 September, 2022 under the chairmanship of ECO Secretariat. The event was attended by delegates from the Tourism and Transport Ministries of Azerbaijan, Iran, Pakistan and Türkiye.

      In his opening remarks Mr. Jasur Rajabov, Director for Tourism Directorate of the ECO Secretariat has highlighted the vital role of the meeting for being the first regional event that intends to bring regional tourism and transport sectors together under one platform. He further mentioned that due to the crosscutting nature of the tourism and transport sectors, a close coordination across relevant national stakeholders is essential to reach the regional tourism objectives by achieving strong regional connectivity and seamless transport. He further stated that transport connectivity is closely linked with the development of tourism and is a key contributor to the overall appeal of a destination, which can lead to increased demand and sustained tourism performance. Therefore, accessibility of the ECO region is the primary requirement for promoting tourism to and within the region. The development of the tourism industry throughout the region needs intra regional and international connectivity through all modes of the transportation in order to ensure comfortable, cheaper, accessible and secure travel in ECO Region.

      Representatives from participating Member States gave a brief presentation on transport connectivity of their countries to the ECO region in areas of land, air, rail and maritime transport. The delegates discussed and shared their views and proposals on how to enhance regional transport connectivity for development of regional tourism.

      Upon the proposal of esteemed representative of Pakistan, Mr. Aftab ur Rehman Rana, Managing Director of PTDC it was agreed to set up a working group to draft a joint regional strategy for facilitation of transport for advancement of tourism for regional travelers and non-ECO Member States. Aftab ur Rehman Rana also highlighted the significance of travel and visa facilitation at the borders and establishment of international bus routes in the ECO region as a cost-friendly travel option for lower income travelers.

      Mr. Mustafa Aladag, Deputy Head of Section of Turkish Railways has mentioned regarding their ongoing Trans Asia Railway project between Istanbul and Almaty and Ankara-Tbilisi - Kars passenger line project will contribute to enhancement of regional tourism once operationalized.

      The representative of the ECO Secretariat gave a brief presentation on ECO Regional Rail Pass Initiative and requested Member States to kindly send their nominations to the working group to discuss the details on the arrangement of this initiative among the ECO Member States.

      Mr. Vahid Shamlou, Head of International Cooperation Group of Iran Airports proposed setting up a working group jointly with the Ministries of Health of ECO Member States to prepare a regional joint plan for managing post-pandemic limitations applied at the airports.

      The meeting was an efficient platform to discuss issues concerning bottlenecks and proposals for advancement of transport connectivity in the ECO region for facilitation of tourism. The participants agreed to meet further through a working group to discuss in detail and draft a joint regional strategy for facilitation of regional connectivity through all means of transport.

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