Tourism Minister: Saudi Arabia has succeeded in achieving a prominent position as the fastest growing global destination


Ahmed Al-Khatib, Minister of Tourism, affirmed that the tourism sector is one of the most important economic sectors, pointing out that it provided 330 million job opportunities around the world before the Covid-19 crisis, and that its contributions to the global GDP reached nine trillion dollars, and contributed to creating one opportunity from One in four new jobs around the world.
Al-Khatib pointed out that the lack of coordination of global response efforts to this crisis has caused significant damage to the sector, as 62 million people lost their jobs and the contribution of tourism to the global GDP was halved.
Al-Khatib stressed that the Kingdom, despite being one of the newly active actors in the global tourism sector, succeeded in achieving a prominent position as the fastest growing global destination in a short period before the start of the Covid-19 crisis, as it witnessed the issuance of 400,000 electronic visas during the first few months after opening It opened its doors to global tourism, assuming the presidency of the Group of Twenty in 2020, where it chaired a global meeting of leaders of the public and private sectors in the field of tourism, to discuss challenges and identify opportunities that would support the sector.
He pointed out that the Kingdom is seeking to take advantage of the opportunity of convening the General Assembly of the United Nations World Tourism Organization, to call for renewed efforts to strengthen international coordination to protect the tourism sector, especially in the face of the new Omicron mutator, which has obstructed travel during the past few days.
Al-Khatib is heading the Kingdom’s delegation to the first meeting of the General Assembly of the United Nations World Tourism Organization since the start of the Covid-19 crisis.
Representatives of more than 100 countries are flocking to the Spanish capital, Madrid, to attend the crucial meeting of the World Tourism Organization, the international multilateral organization tasked with supervising and coordinating efforts to develop the global tourism sector.
The General Assembly meeting comes at a critical stage for the World Tourism Organization and the global tourism sector, which has been greatly affected by the repercussions of the global health crisis.
The Minister of Tourism said: “The international response to the new Omicron mutator showed us the importance of effective coordination of global response efforts, and the main lesson learned from the Covid-19 crisis was the necessity of coordinating international efforts and emphasizing the great role of tourism in our economies, and it falls on the shoulders of the World Tourism Organization, We, as member states, have a responsibility to accelerate the recovery process and reshape the tourism sector in preparation for the future, and we hope that the upcoming General Assembly meeting will address these points.”
He indicated that the member states of the organization seek, during the General Assembly meeting, to shed light on the developments that these countries have witnessed since the last meeting, which was hosted in St. Petersburg, Russia in September 2019, when the Kingdom launched the electronic tourist visa program.
For her part, Princess Haifa bint Muhammad bin Saud, Assistant Minister of Tourism, indicated that the Kingdom has many ambitions in the field of tourism to have a major role in the economy, indicating that the goal is to receive 100 million international and local visitors by 2030.
She added that the list of initiatives launched by the Kingdom in cooperation with its international partners included: a multi-donor trust fund of the World Bank, the Tourism Academy of the World Tourism Organization, which aims to educate and train young people to secure their future in the tourism sector, and a regional office of the World Tourism Organization in Riyadh. In order to provide a center for it in the Middle East and beyond, in addition to the Global Center for Sustainable Tourism, which was launched during the United Nations Climate Change Conference 2021.
Princess Haifa indicated that the initiative aims to bring together the public and private sectors and focus on millions of small and medium-sized companies, which constitute the largest part of the tourism sector, stressing that everyone is aware of the scale of benefits when the global tourism sector flourishes, which is the main incentive behind these launched initiatives.


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