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Bin Touq leads UAE delegation participating in WEF Special Meeting in Riyadh

Bin Touq leads UAE delegation participating in WEF Special Meeting in Riyadh
29 Apr 2024 16:53

RIYADH (WAM)

The Minister of Economy, Abdullah bin Touq Al Marri, led the UAE delegation at the World Economic Forum (WEF) Special Meeting on Global Collaboration, Growth and Energy for Development in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, which was held on 28th and 29th April.

Also part of the delegation was Under-Secretary at the Ministry of Economy, Abdullah Ahmed Al Saleh.

Bin Touq participated in a session on the future of sustainable tourism development and leveraging tourism's potential as a primary driver for agile economic growth.

Among the participants were Ahmed Al Khatib, Saudi Minister of Tourism; Thiago Alonso de Oliveira, CEO of JHSF; Jerry Inzerillo, CEO of Al Diriyah Group; and Aireen Omar, President and CEO of RedBeat Capital, Capital A (AirAsia).

Acknowledging the tourism sector’s key role in boosting global economic growth, Bin Touq said that it also serves as a key pillar in the achievement of SDGs by 2030.

This is due to its significance and broad impact on delivering sustainable development for nations through increasing revenues, attracting FDI, creating job opportunities, establishing varied tourism ventures, and enhancing transport infrastructure.

He further explained that in addition to contributing to the growth of related services and industries such as hospitality, transport services, leisure and retail sectors, tourism contributes to creating job opportunities for people of all ages, reducing unemployment rates.

Bin Touq pointed out that by 2033, this dynamic sector is projected to boost its contribution to the global GDP to $15.5 trillion, accounting for 11.6 percent of the world economy.

It is expected to provide employment for around 430 million individuals globally, which makes up almost 12 percent of the global workforce, as per the World Travel and Tourism Council's projections.

Importance of Sustainability in Advancing Tourism
Bin Touq emphasised that sustainability is key to boosting the tourism sector’s growth in the immediate future, particularly given the current global environmental and social challenges.

It calls for strengthening the collaborative efforts across all fronts and levels to attain harmony between economic and environmental progress as well as social accountability.

Bin Touq also highlighted the UAE's commitment to enhancing the regional and global tourism infrastructure to ensure the sustainability of the sector.

Additionally, he indicated that there are challenges ahead for sustainable tourism, most notably the necessity to upskill the workforce, improve their performance and expertise in tourism, and foster innovation and creativity across various tourism fields and activities.

“The UAE is committed to promoting sustainability, not just in the tourism industry but across diverse economic and environmental sectors, safeguarding resources, wealth, and natural reserves, especially following the announcement by His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE, extending the ‘Year of Sustainability’ to the year 2024 with the aim of building on the success of this initiative last year,” he added.

National Initiatives & Strategies to Promote Sustainable Tourism Growth
Bin Touq emphasised that the UAE attaches significant importance to the tourism sector, recognising it as a key contributor to national economic growth and enhancing its competitiveness and diversity.

The country has successfully highlighted its tourism diversity in the past phase, promoting the unique features and characteristics of all seven emirates, with the aim of attracting more global companies to its markets.

These achievements encourage national and foreign investments in tourism projects, thereby consolidating the UAE's position on the travel and tourism landscape at regional and global levels.

Bin Touq elaborated on the UAE's experience in developing its tourism sector in accordance with international best practices and making it more flexible and sustainable and said that these included the promotion of sustainable tourism practices such as eco-friendly accommodation, wildlife conservation, cultural heritage, and the launch of national initiatives and strategies such as the ‘National Tourism Strategy 2031’.

The strategy aims to increase the contribution of the UAE tourism sector to the national GDP to Dh450 billion, raising the country's profile as the best tourism identity by the next decade.

Besides, through the launch of the National Sustainable Aviation Fuel Roadmap, the country has set an ambitious target to achieve annual production of up to 700 million litres of sustainable aviation fuel by 2030.

Role of Ecotourism in Promoting Sustainability of National Tourism Sector
Bin Touq noted the importance of ecotourism in supporting the sustainability of the tourism sector and preserving natural reserves and desert attractions.

He presented examples of sustainable tourism in the UAE, including the Al Marmoom Conservation Reserve, which balances the experiences of visitors with the preservation of the environment, in addition to Sir Baniyas Island which has ecotourism potential.

He also highlighted major international events hosted by the country such as Expo 2020 Dubai and COP28, which also played a prominent role in promoting tourism growth.

UAE Tourism Sector Achieves Record in Key Performance Indicators
Reviewing performance indicators and results achieved by UAE tourism in 2023, Bin Touq confirmed its full recovery from the pandemic and return to higher levels of growth than 2019.

The national tourism sector grew by a significant 26 percent in 2023 compared to that of 2022 and surpassed 2019 levels by 14 percent.

Its contribution to the country's GDP amounted to Dh220 billion, accounting for 11.7 percent.

This is expected to rise in 2024 to Dh236 billion, equivalent to 12 percent of the country's GDP, according to a recent report by the World Travel and Tourism Council.

In addition, this vital sector provided 809,000 jobs in various activities and tourism fields in the country in 2023, equivalent to 12.3 percent of the total labour market.

With a five percent growth from 2022, exceeding 2019 levels with 11.4 percent growth, the number of jobs it creates is expected to reach 833,000 in 2024.

There are currently 1,235 hotels in the UAE providing a total of 210,000 rooms for guests and visitors.

Unified GCC Tourism Visa
Bin Touq explained that efforts are underway in collaboration with other GCC partners to launch the unified GCC tourist visa.

Once it comes into effect, it will contribute to highlighting the diverse tourism destinations in GCC countries, attracting and retaining tourists for longer periods, thus increasing the number of hotel guests and making the region one of the leading destinations for regional and international tourists alike.

World Economy Forum Special Meeting, Riyadh
Saudi Arabia's capital Riyadh hosted the special meeting of the World Economic Forum, its first meeting outside Davos after the COVID-19 pandemic.

Over 1,000 participants attended the Forum, including senior officials, international experts, opinion leaders and intellectuals from government and private sectors, international organisations and academic institutions to discuss various global economic issues and developments with an aim to find common solutions to address them.

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