The 1st Meeting of the ECO Tour Operators Network was held virtually on 22 November, 2022 with the participation of tour operators and travel agencies from Azerbaijan, Iran, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Tأ¼rkiye, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.
Mr. Jasur Rajabov, Director for Tourism of the ECO Secretariat inaugurated the meeting and warmly welcomed the participants. In his opening remarks, Director for Tourism has highlighted the vital role of the meeting as the first regional event that intends to bring tour operators and travel agencies from Member countries under one platform. He maintained that due to the crosscutting nature of the tourism sector, a close coordination across various national stakeholders in the private sector including tour operators, travel agencies, and tourism organizations is essential to reach the regional tourism objectives. He further emphasized the major key role of the private sector in tourism industry as tourism is an economic activity largely carried out by the private sector in many countries.
The tour operators and travel agencies discussed and shared their views and proposals on the operationalization of the ECO Tour Operators Network and conveyed their content for its timely establishment for facilitation of connectivity among the tour operators in the ECO region. The meeting discussed technical matters for establishment of the network, development of ECO Tour Packages and other joint cooperation areas to promote regional tourism. The participants shared their concern and sought ways of facilitation of a regional visa for travelers to the region to ease free movement in the region. They came up with some proposals regarding joint tour packages in health tourism and nature based tourism to promote cross border travel. It was also proposed to include national handicrafts dealers into the Network to facilitate community based tourism in the ECO Member countries.
The tour operators sought ways and means to increase connectivity among the members of the Network and suggested face-to-face meetings would increase the synergy and partnership. The meeting was an efficient platform to discuss many joint cooperation areas for the regional tourism sector and it was agreed to collaborate and have monthly meetings for further enhancement of regional tourism industry.