Commissioned by COMCEC (The Standing Committee for Economic and Commercial Cooperation of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation), the “Developing Multi-Destination Tourism Corridors In the OIC Member Countries” report provides tourism policymakers with recommendations to successfully plan, establish, manage, and market multi-destination tourism corridors.
A multi-destination tourism corridor (MDTC) is a tourism route with a common theme covering more than one country. It combines the assets and attractions from various destinations to form an integrated attraction.
Best practices in developing tourism corridors: Important steps in planning a tourism corridor include assessing potential demand and evaluating the feasibility of establishing a corridor based on infrastructure. In terms of corridor governance and management, choosing a suitable governance model and setting a legislative framework are key. Determining key performance indicators and how to measure them is an important part of monitoring performance. In terms of marketing best practices, theme-based branding involves creating a story or narrative to be associated with the corridor and communicating this story across the various channels to all relevant stakeholders.
Case studies of successful tourism corridors include:
The Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) Tourism Corridor, which provides a strong example for stakeholder collaboration and use of digital marketing
The Danube Tourism Corridor, which sets a good example for visa facilitation and collaboration with the private sector
The Turkic Silk Road Tourism Corridor, a route with high brand awareness
The Holy Family Tourism Corridor, a tourism route with tremendous potential but is not fully utilized by countries involved
Some of the main challenges in developing multi-destination tourism corridors in OIC countries include limited research and data collection efforts, challenge in infrastructure development, strict visa requirements for most countries, limited funding sources, and limited use of uniform branding for corridor.
Recommendations for Potential Corridors: After looking into existing tourism corridors between the OIC countries, other possible cross-border corridors to promote specific themes or regions of the OIC countries collaboratively include the following:
Islamic Silk Road Countries
The Islamic Silk Road is at the center of where East and West meet. Representing robust Islamic tradition and a melting pot of cultures, it represents what most people associate with the historic Silk Road: A connection between Asia and Europe. As a sub-corridor of the UNWTO Silk Road Programme, this corridor can be a very powerful brand, showcasing Islamic history and its role in the Silk Road in contrast to Chinese and European influence.
Alexander the Great
One of the best known ancient Greek emperors, Alexander the Great has high name recognition internationally. Most countries ruled by the Macedonian king are OIC countries. Taking over the leadership in an Alexander the Great Corridor in collaboration with Greece would position the OIC countries as a connector between East and West.
The Travels of Imam Bukhari
Imam Mohammed Al-Bukhari is considered one of the most distinguished scholars of Hadith in Islamic history. His book, Sahih al-Bukhari, in which the Prophet's words, actions, and habits were collected, is one of the greatest sources of prophetic influence in history. Even though this is not an “official” tourism corridor, it can be seen as the biggest influence on Muslim travel in the region.
Bedouin Trails Countries
A corridor promoting the distinct Arabic heritage and tradition of the nomadic Bedouin people would open up the region to international travelers. With a focus on making the culture accessible, it would bring the magnificent natural and cultural heritage of the area closer to a larger number of visitors.
Cross-Border Parks and Protected Areas
In 2006, the OIC had the first meeting of the Committee on the Regional Project of “Sustainable Tourism Development in a Network of Cross-Border Parks and Protected Areas in West Africa.” At this point, numerous interventions were coordinated by member countries to discuss potential corridor development.
The Frankincense Route
A network of trade routes established between the historical OIC countries, carrying goods such as salt, wheat, wine, weapons, dates, and animal skins from one fortified settlement to another. These paths were the basis of the frankincense trade routes between the kingdoms of southern Arabia, which formed the starting point of the route towards the north. For centuries, incense trade routes from Arabia Felix to the Mediterranean were specifically made with camel caravans, although, this was not just a single and permanent route. This distinct branding would promote the historical role of the region.
Masar Ibrahim, a community-based walking trail, was mainly developed in Palestine, but with an ambition to include the whole of Abraham’s Path, through Egypt, occupied Palestine, Turkey Syria, and Iraq.
The Fatimid Culture Route
The Fatimid Culture Route would place a focus on early Islamic history and its influence on the culture and architecture of the Middle East and Northern Africa.
Red Sea Tourism Corridor
The Red Sea is a divider and also a connection between a number of the OIC countries. Since the opening of the Suez Canal, it has become even more critical than it was in ancient times as a trading route.
Based on the old Trans-Saharan trade routes, this tourism corridor connects northern African countries with the Sub-Saharan OIC countries. With a strong association with caravans and deserts, this corridor could offer a strong message and branding.
Ibn Battuta’s Eastern Journey
Ibn Battuta was one of the most distinguished Muslim explorers and travelers. Born in Morocco in the 13th century, he visited most of the Islamic world, including Central Asia, Southeast Asia, South Asia, and China. This corridor could have a strong branding once formalized and part of the UNWTO Maritime Silk Road. It could be recommended to include China in this corridor to benefit from its healthy economic muscle and travel market.