Mr Hossein Mohammadi (Embassy of Iran) with Jo Devine and Alla Peressolova of UNWTO
170 top EHL students compete to deliver innovative winning tourism strategy at EHL/UNWTO Silk Road Think Tank
At the Ecole Hôtelière de Lausanne (EHL)/UNWTO Silk Road Think Tank, 170 future hospitality leaders presented innovative strategies for how ten UNWTO Member States can maximize their positioning as Silk Road destinations.
Over the past eight weeks, EHL students have been working through their strategic management course to come up with 5-10 year strategies for ten UNWTO Member States as part of their final assessment before graduating. Students were tasked with preparing innovative and feasible strategies for Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, China, Greece, the Republic of Korea, Iran, Russia, Turkey and Ukraine. The strategies were developed in line with the UNWTO Silk Road Action Plan 2012-2013 and the UN Millennium Development Goals.
A panel of judges consisting of EHL management, UNWTO officials and Member States representatives selected the three winning student teams who developed the most outstanding strategies for Azerbaijan (first place), the Altai Krai region of the Russian Federation (second place) and the Islamic Republic of Iran (third place).
The winning team will visit Altai Krai later this year to work with the local government to develop a comprehensive Silk Road tourism strategy for the region.
The programme concluded with an open panel debate on how to overcome the major challenges facing tourism development across the Silk Road.
"The UNWTO Silk Road Programme is playing an important role in bringing the countries of the Silk Road together again to foster growth and sustainable tourism development. Therefore we are delighted to be working for the first time with Europe’s top hospitality management school on this highly innovative Strategy Initiative to the benefit of the Silk Road." Said Taleb Rifai, Secretary-General, World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) in a video address to the think tank.
The EHL Strategy Initiative this year formed the cornerstone of the students’ final course at EHL Strategic Management. For seven weeks, students attended various lectures to acquire knowledge and skills in contemporary strategic theory prior to making their presentations.
Said Veronica Waldthausen, a student working for Azerbaijan issues: "We have been given the opportunity to work on a Silk Road strategy development initiative together with the UNWTO and Member States in our capstone course of Strategic Management. We are totally involved in this challenge which will contribute to the Silk Road revival."
The Think Tank was designed to encourage the exchange of ideas and to stimulate discussions on the future of sustainable Tourism in the Silk Road countries.
Demian Hodari, PHD, Professor of Strategic Management at EHL and Jo Devine from UNWTO, who co-initiated this event said: "This day won’t just be an opportunity for our students but also for all the people concerned by an international collaborative approach to create the future of Silk Road sustainable tourism."
Michel Rochat, General Director of EHL, said: "The hospitality sector has always been a link between people and culture and our students reflect this tradition. Allow me to thank country officials for recognising the significant contribution of the youth of today for the development of their tourism strategies."
The 27 reports prepared by the students cover topics such as social media and mobile technologies, transport, infrastructure, capacity building in hospitality management, intangible heritage and the restoration of cultural sites, including caravanserais.
A comprehensive report on the strategies from the EHL/UNWTO Silk Road Strategy Challenge will soon be available on the UNWTO website.
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