Towards a Union for Chambers of Tourism
I listened to the speech delivered by the Syrian Minister for Tourism at the seminar held during the Travel Market Fair in London last year and found myself pausing at his statement that Syria had legislated a law for the establishment of a chamber of tourism modelled on the chambers of trade, industry and agriculture. These latter have become an organizational tradition for such professions throughout every country in the world. And
ever since hearing this news, questions have dominated my thoughts: What would a chamber of tourism look like? How would it be formed? What would be its role and function? What would it achieve in the multifaceted world of tourism with all its different horizons and many specialisations, particularly in relation to contemporary civilisation and inter-human relations on various levels?
My thoughts led me to put in writing
some ideas in this article, hoping that doing so would open a door for dialogue, planning and implementation that would further serve such a sublime goal.
How will a Union of Chambers of Tourism be formed?
Would a chamber of tourism be required in every province or country from which a union would be formed?
These are questions that need to be answered by the concerned parties or those who have an interest in such matters. Obviously, such chambers would consist of owners of hotels, travel agencies, tourism
and air, maritime, and land transportation companies, restaurants, and entertainment centres providing various services under different forms, whether institutional, corporate or individual. These establishments, that provide services to tourists, must organise
themselves in order to solve any problems they may have with the states within which they function, with each other, and with the international corporations they deal with.
The question here is: are the services, their reputation and appearance of these establishments the goal sought by local and foreign tourists, or a means for the tourists' comfort and enjoyment?
"Regardless of what type of visit or tourism that a traveller seeks out in any country or region that is designated for tourism, the first thing that attracts his/ her attention is the level of hygiene in the place visited, including on the streets, on roads, in alleyways, and at the attractions he/ she may be visiting."
Regardless of what type of visit or tourism that a traveller seeks out in any country or region that is designated for tourism, the first thing that attracts his/ her attention is the level of hygiene in the place visited, including on the streets, on roads, in alleyways, and at the attractions
he/ she may be visiting. The interests of tourist service
establishments in fact necessitate that municipalities participate as members of these chambers so as
to contribute in turn to shaping the tourist character of a particular country. If they are incapable of this,
then there is a need to establish other means that take the place of municipal authorities in creating a clean environment that is characterised by cleanliness in a
neighbourhood, locality or city by assigning the matter of hygiene to specialist company or companies that possess the requisite up-todate equipment and machinery to enable technicians to carry out their tasks properly and efficiently.
I have previously written an article on this topic (see issue number 10 of al-Hida'a magazine, 1985, published by TCPH) in which I emphasised the need for the state, establishments, shops and residents in any given region to contribute to defraying the costs of hygiene either directly or through hygiene taxes, or else through the formation of popular philanthropic institutions dedicated to a cleaner
environment. These institutions would work on a voluntary basis or use specific funds for this purpose in the context of a kind of humanitarian jihad, or struggle. This would be especially pertinent to cities and sites
that have important mosques and other places of religious interest.
Because I am a businessman, I have journeyed and lived in Europe and many other parts of the world as a means to not only expand my work but also broaden my own knowledge, as well as to transfer and exchange experiences. One of the most important things to catch my eyes has been the level of hygiene in many parts of our globe.
There is not enough space to describe the splendid scenes I have encountered even in the poorest residential and commercial environments, and what I have seen in other places where rubbish has been purposely accumulated along the streets, and where
foul-smelling garbage bags are amassed on pavements in
commercial and affluent areas. I have admired the former scenario yet continue to be amazed by the disgraceful nonchalance of residents in the latter context, who
allow such nuisance to fester.
I should like, specifically, to share my impressions of some cities that I have visited in Dubai and Sharjah, which I can say were especially clean, and also of the brave steps taken by the Lebanese government to stop the use of diesel fuel in cars, which is a particularly harmful pollutant of the atmosphere, despite the
grumbling of some cab drivers due to the immediate financial losses they had to endure.
"There are cities where one can see the main streets so clean and beautiful, while their side roads and alleyways are extremely dirty. There are also cities that are characterised by their wide boulevards but whose sidewalks are sadly punctuated by many hindrances,
sometimes being simply impassable."
There are cities where one can see the main streets so clean and beautiful, while their side roads and alleyways are extremely dirty. There are also cities that are characterised by their wide boulevards but whose sidewalks are sadly punctuated by many hindrances,
sometimes being simply impassable.
In light of the above, a chambers of tourism must, if established, devote particular attention to the cleanliness of streets as well as sidewalks and the areas surrounding institutions or the site of business operations through the granting of "stars" for level of cleanliness. These could similarly be granted to hotels.
I also recommend a hygiene festival, wherein cleanliness is promoted as a source of citizen's pride, dignity and comfort for the soul, in addition to the necessity of living in a healthy environment. Is cleanliness not next to godliness? If so, let us work towards hygiene religiously.
In order to make the role of tourism groups effective, there is a need to get representatives of the following institutions to participate:
- Archaeological institutions and museums.
- Mosque institutions.
- International Fairs.
- Sports clubs of international character.
- Representatives of chambers of industry and commerce.
- Banking institutions, as this involves opportunities for the funding and development of (tourism) and for economic sectors in the country to which
they belong in general.
- Tourism security, to protect
tourists from harassment and
Among the tasks of tourism groups is spreading tourism
awareness among citizens that is appropriate to the nature of the intended tourism.
Finally, I hope that there will be a chamber of tourism in each and every village and city whose members set out, with full desire, enthusiasm and vigour, to work on conferring a tourism outlook on their institutions, neighbourhoods and cities.
And I hope that government officials will be up to the task of assuming responsibility to promote this vital economic and cultural sector, of which countries and institutions already vie for the largest share.
Let tourism be one of the means for mutual acquaintance and love among nations, in realisation of God's saying: "We have created you as peoples and tribes [that] you [may] know one other; the finest among you in the sight of Allah are the most pious".
May God guide us towards the best of deeds!