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The Asian Productivity Organization (APO) recently concluded a five-day training course on Planning and Management of Community-based Rural Tourism Projects held at the Imam Khomeini Higher Education Center in Karaj, IR Iran, 28 October–1 November 2017. The course was organized in conjunction with the National Iranian Productivity Organization and Institute of Technical and Vocational Higher Education of the Ministry of Agriculture Jihad to enhance participants’ knowledge of and skills in rural tourism project planning and management.
Tourism is recognized as an economic activity that makes unique contributions to host sites. The rise of the middle class and increased global connectivity via advanced communication technologies have allowed more people to travel. With the Asia-Pacific showing the strongest growth in tourism, reports suggest that the number of visitors in the region may reach 535 million by 2030, making it the second-largest tourism market worldwide.
With that upward trend, the tourism industry is regarded as an important economic driver to create job opportunities and reduce poverty. In addition, as a service business, tourism does not necessarily require massive investment in infrastructure as in case of manufacturing facilities. SME owners and individuals can engage in tourism businesses with their available human resources and assets since the entry barrier is comparatively low, and hence tourism in rural areas can be an effective tool to revitalize local communities.
The APO training course, including lectures and presentations by international experts and a site visit to Baraghan village, helped participants better understand the latest trends and successful models of community-based rural tourism (CBRT) and the use of digital marketing strategies for rural community revitalization. Baraghan is an historical mountain village in Alborz province and a success story of how CBRT-based eco-tourism can have a positive impact on the local economy.
The course in Karaj allowed participants to examine current directions of CBRT by analyzing methodologies and techniques to identify and work with stakeholders for inclusive growth. Thirty-six individuals, including 15 APO overseas participants, nine local ones, and 12 observers attended.
F.R.E.S.H. Services Ltd. Managing Director Harro Boekhold (Netherlands); Othman Yeop Abdullah Graduate School of Business Professor Kalsom Kayat, Universiti Utara Malaysia; Foundation for European Sustainable Tourism Director Silvia Barbone (Belgium); and Geography and Rural Planning Professor Mohammad Reza Rezvani, University of Tehran, conducted the course.