The virtual meeting took place on June 17, chaired by H.E. Ahmed Al-Khateeb, Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Tourism. His Excellency and tourism ministers from around MENA talked about how to bounce back from COVID-19 and coordinate regional improvement. Saudi Arabia has adopted the World Travel and Tourism Council’s (WTTC) Safety Stamp to help boost safe travel, while the UAE has shared preparatory plans for reopening and Egypt has outlined investments in its tourism sector to aid recovery.Ahead of the meeting, Saudi Arabia announced a new Tourism Development Fund to help realise the long-term potential of Saudi Arabia’s tourism sector. The fund will contribute to the development of tourism projects, in addition to supporting the private sector in developing tourism destinations to drive economic growth, diversification and jobs across the Kingdom.
“Our region hosts close to 85 million international, regional and domestic tourists each year. Not only does tourism create jobs and support economies, it enhances quality of life and deepens cultural understanding and exchange. Supporting the industry is critically important to the Arab Tourism Ministers Council,” said the Minister of Tourism.His Excellency added: “The Middle East is leading the way on tourism readiness and we are committed to working together to ensure the health of all and develop innovative ways to reopen borders. We are putting measures in place so that we can safely welcome tourists back to share the diverse and unique treasures of the Arab region.”
In 2019, the MENA region’s travel and tourism sector employed more than 4.6 million people and generated just under US$120 billion in GDP.