The Conference, organised by the OECD, the Italian Department of Tourism and the City of Rome, was opened by the Director of the Italian Tourism, Stefano Landi, in the presence of the Mayor of Rome, Francesco Rutelli, the chairman of the OECD Tourism Committee, Erich Musyl, and the Chairman of the National Bilateral Bureau for Tourism, Gennaro Pannozo.
The purpose of the meeting was to discuss ways for governments to promote partnerships in the areas of finance, tourist business support programmes, regional development, training and consumer information.
Why do countries establish partnerships?
- Participants recognised that the establishment of partnerships is closely linked with the improvement of the effectiveness of national tourism administrations (NTAs) and national tourism organisations (NTOs). The OECD will continue research aiming to analyse and understand the relationships between NTAs and NTOs (how to measure the effectiveness of NTOs is a key question).
- Participants agreed that partnership is becoming an important instrument for implementing tourism policies more effectively, notably in the field of employment and education. Public/private partnerships range from "soft" forms of co-ordination to "hard" ones such as joint stock companies. Furthermore, they noted that the most common form of partnership is public/private co-operation in marketing.
Are partnerships useful and efficient tools to increase economic growth and job creation?
- The role of the government can be enhanced by forming partnerships in the following policy areas: public services; sustainability; regional policy and SME support; co-ordination of promotion; im91ement of regulation and law enforcement.
- The public sector, as an "agent of development", may work to achieve optimal exploitation of public resources and services, safeguarding the environment and developing human resources.
- Negative aspects of partnerships should be overcome, such as a disproportionate government role, partnerships with no attention to market needs, disproportional investments, inefficiency of public administration, institutionalisation of projects and lack of creativity.
- International partnerships among countries, private companies and international organisations can help advance key tourism issues such as taxes, entry facilitation, staggering of holidays and environmental protection.
- Government measures to support new start-ups of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and to encourage SMEs to expand need to be developed in the form of partnerships. Partnerships in finance, education/training and information network are especially needed. The OECD will integrate these issues into the ongoing project on SMEs.
Is there an exemplary partnership model which would contribute to more efficient implementation of tourism policy, especially for stimulating job creation?
- There is no single model, but there are many examples of good practices in OECD countries. The Italian Department of Tourism proposed the development of an OECD inventory identifying best partnership practices in Member countries as well as their impact on employment.
- More emphasis should be put on education/training programmes for tourism, which creates jobs at the very core of OECD's unemployment. Local initiatives can serve the real needs of the local tourism economy and increase local employment.
- Employer-employee partnerships should continue to be developed to im91e working conditions in the tourism industries and social dialogue.
- In most cases, the tourism industry should take the lead. However, there is a concern that the reduced role of governments has decreased partnerships in tourism. Whether partnerships should be led by the public or the private sector and the appropriate balance of roles and responsibilities between them require further discussions.
- Partnerships should seek to establish a balance between competition and co-operation, focusing on the advantages of economies of scale and the creation of synergies. A new partnership framework needs to be developed to make partnership approaches to sustainable tourism development more effective and to enhance competitiveness and job creation.
- The job creation issue remains high on the OECD agenda. In this regard, the 1998 Seoul conference looked at the impact of changes in information technologies on employment in tourism (i.e.the growing gap in the demand for skilled and unskilled labour in the tourism industry).
The objective of the conference was to promote forms of partnerships in the tourism sector to ensure that tourism functions as a powerhouse for job creation. The debate demonstrated that partnership is becoming a powerful tool for implementing tourism policies more effectively.
The conference made clear the different forms of public/private partnerships. Despite numerous advantages, certain negative aspects - a too large role for governments, partnerships lacking attention to market needs, disproportional investments, inefficiency of public administration, institutionalisation of projects and lack of creativity - have to be taken into consideration.
A "good partnership" involves a clear definition of roles, competencies, responsibilities and advantages both in public administrations and private enterprises. In particular, the public sector, as an "agent of development", may help achieve optimal exploitation of public resources and services, safeguard the environment and develop human resources. Partnerships must be based on agreements which show the economic benefits for the public/private sector and/or centre/periphery. More and more forms of partnerships are developed in almost all areas of tourism policy. Governments have to play an important role in new ways of organising this co-operation, notably by defining a clear national strategy for tourism policy which will stimulate and guide innovative partnerships and give incentives to all individual partners to participate in the development.