Monthly Archives: November 2013

UNWTO Partners UNESCO to Promote Sustainable Tourism

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The United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) and the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) have forged a new cooperation agreement.  A Memorandum of Understanding  consolidates the two intergovernmental organizations’ efforts on sustainable tourism, as they  will work together on national, regional and global initiatives to safeguard natural and cultural heritage. This agreement covers the following issues:

– The implementation of the UNESCO World Heritage and Sustainable Tourism Programme

– The development of transnational tourism initiatives to promote and protect the shared heritage of the Silk Roads Heritage Corridors

– The identification, development and networking of sustainable tourism initiatives and activities in biosphere reserves

– The promotion of sustainable tourism through United Nations partnerships and initiatives, such as the United Nations

Steering Committee on Tourism for Development (SCTD) and the Global Partnership for Sustainable Tourism (GPST).

UNWTO has already been working closely with UNESCO for many years to ensure a sustainable approach to heritage management and tourism. Tourism plays a significant role in the preservation, conservation and promotion of cultural and natural assets. This agreement further strengthens both organizations’ capacity to integrate sustainable tourism principles with the protection of the world´s heritage. This MoU is the third agreement between UNESCO and UNWTO since 1979.

Source: http://www2.unwto.org/en/press-release/2013-11-28/unwto-and-unesco-join-hands-sustainable-tourism-promotion

Related Link: UNESCO/UNWTO Silk Roads Heritage Corridors Workshop set visa facilitation as top priority:

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Digital Marketing: Ten things you need to know!

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Businesses always need to find new ways how to leverage themselves through innovative marketing applications. They often make use of multichannel communications to reach their target audiences. Digital marketing can help to raise awareness of business. It comprises distinct sets of tools including blogs, wikis, email marketing, social-networking sites and search engine optimisation among other channels. Nowadays, entrepreneurs can build stronger ties with their networks through the following tactics:

  1. Mobile Friendly Web Pages: Corporate sites have to be compatible with different browsers on mobile devices including smart phones and tablets.
  2. Easy Navigation: Navigation in the corporate sites should be as easy as possible, with user-centred design. Corporate businesses’ sites may possibly enable interactive information sharing, inter-operability and collaboration across Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn Google +, Digg, Reddit, Pocket, StumbleUpon, Pinterest, Tumblr, Paper.li and ScoopIt among others.
  3. Testimonials, Blogs and Forums: Rotating testimonials are used to pull customers by providing views of satisfied customers. Marketers can create a forum where clients or web visitors can ask questions, get tech support, or post comments. Consumers themselves are quickly becoming ambassadors for businesses’ products and services. For instance, Trip Advisor and Yelp offer trusted advice, opinions and reviews from real customers. Very often, customers are posting their pictures and experiences associated with products and brands on Instagram and Pinterest.
  4. Pay per Click Advertising: Online marketing is usually carried out through Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook.
  5. SEO: The purpose of search engine optimization is to enhance the visibility of web sites in search engine results. Through effective SEO, relevant keywords will direct more traffic to web sites. Nowadays there are many firms offering professional SEO software. In addition to marketing analytics software, customers will usually access SEO and inbound marketing resources.
  6. Google Maps/Places: Google has changed the search landscape with the introduction of GoogleMaps. When web users search for places, Google locates all the businesses on its map.
  7. Social Media Marketing: Social media accounts are also open for business. Some of the latest networks allow their prospective users to login to their site from Facebookor Twitter.
  8. Video: Businesses can showcase their products or services through Youtube, Dailymotion, Vimeo and Vine. Marketeers are increasingly uploading short, fun videos which often turn viral.
  9. Email Marketing: Emails are forwarded to lists of customers and prospects which are based on their past purchases. Emails and e-newsletters are an effective way to retain existing customers. Many customers like to be informed of the latest products and offers.
  10. Hashtags: Customers’ are often invited or rather pushed to share facebook statuses / tweets about business offers and deals as a requirement to take part in competitions. Businesses and customers alike have also learned how to use the hashtag (#) to enhance the visibility of their posting.

This contribution provides some good advice on contemporary digital marketing. The most successful business practitioners are those who are capable of forging direct relationships with their customers. Consumers ought to be involved in marketing and selling activities; from product development to after-sales feedback. In this day and age, it is imperative that companies value their consumers’ opinions and preferences on various aspects of the marketing mix.

Dr Mark Camilleri is an academic, independent writer, speaker and a business strategist. He specialises in marketing communications, evaluation, and research – http://goo.gl/4jYlBl

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‘Crowdfunding’ for economic growth and competitiveness

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Recently the European Commission has launched a consultation programme (between the 3rd October to 31st December 2013) to explore the costs and benefits of ‘crowdfunding’ as an alternative form of finance. Contributions are sought from competent authorities, crowdfunding platforms, entrepreneurs and individuals who launched crowdfunding campaigns. Stakeholders are invited to share their views about crowdfunding opportunities and to help in the design of an optimal policy framework which will untap the potential of this new form of financing. Crowdfunding entails the collection of funds through small contributions from many parties in order to raise capital for a particular project or venture. This alternative source of financing has the potential to bridge the equity gap many start-ups face. It is hoped that this initiative stimulates entrepreneurship amid different regulatory, supervisory, fiscal and social structures of the European Union. Evidently, the European Commission is delving through extant national legal frameworks to understand better how businesses can raise their capital through such open forms of financing. Whereas some crowdfunding campaigns are local in nature, there may be others who are benefiting from easier access to financing within the single European market.

Certain safeguards may be necessary to maintain the stakeholders’ trust and engagement. The ultimate objective of the European Commission’s consultation is to gather data about the needs of market participants and to identify the areas where there is an opportunity for the sustainable growth of enterprises though debt-based or equity-based crowdfunding. The consultation covers all forms of crowdfunding; ranging from donations and rewards to financial investments. Everyone is invited to share their opinions and perceptions, including citizens who might contribute to crowdfunding campaigns and entrepreneurs who may launch such campaigns. National authorities and crowdfunding platforms are also encouraged to reply.

In a similar vein, the United States’ Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is currently considering crowdfunding as it was featured in “Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act” (JOBS Act). It is very likely that the proposal for crowdfunding will bring a major shift in how small U.S. companies can raise their money in the private securities market. Alternative sources of finance which are already secured via the internet include; monetary contributions in exchange for rewards, product pre-ordering, lending and / or investment. With crowdfunding now there’s the possibility that smaller businesses will be able to raise up to $1 million a year by tapping unaccredited investors. Any type of project with a promising ROI may soon opt for crowdfunding. Hopefully, it will be the micro entrepreneurs and researchers who will be capable of soliciting such ‘crowdfunding’ opportunities.

These plans can be successful only if the regulatory costs are kept as low as possible. Otherwise, small enterprises may not be intrigued by such a financing proposition. From the outset, crowdfunding may still seem a bit unclear at this stage. There are many companies including startups that can take advantage of these rules. Probably, one of the main causes of concern will be any reporting requirements for small companies to file their annual financial statements. For instance, SEC’s crowdfunding proposals may suggest certain disclosures, such as; “information about officers and directors, how proceeds from the offering will be used, and financial statements”. It transpires that the crowdfunding proposals are limiting how much money an unaccredited investor can contribute each year. The proposal says that investors with a net worth and income of less than $100,000 can contribute only $2,000 or 5 percent of their net worth or income, whichever is greater. Those with a net worth or income of more than $100,000 can contribute more. In an effort to reduce burdens on companies and portals, SEC’s plan would not explicitly force them to take steps to verify income levels and the net worth of investors in crowdfunding. At the same time, SEC would require companies using crowdfunding to release financial statements and other information that could prove costly.

No doubt that the most experienced entrepreneurs and their intermediaries will have no difficulty in meeting such crowdfunding rules and regulations. Perhaps, it is the first-time entrepreneurs who may require further support. At present the smaller businesses earning revenues (and profits) below a certain threshold are not legally obliged to provide audited financial statements. Moreover, small enterprises may not always have historical financials. This means that financial services authorities will find it quite difficult to determine how small companies are true and fair in their financial reports. According to the US proposals, the businesses who consider crowdfunding as a source of finance will have to audit their accounts.

By the end of this year the European stakeholders would have consulted about this ‘new’ source of finance. It is hoped that any discourse in this regard will translate into facilitative, soft-law measures leading to legislative action. If the crowdfunding proposals will be implemented; more capital will be unlocked for start-ups, investments and projects. This capital finance will surely help to spur economic growth and competitiveness.

More information is available here:

http://ec.europa.eu/internal_market/finances/crowdfunding/

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