UAE hosts 42nd Meeting of UNWTO Commission for the Middle East on sidelines of Arabian Travel Market

  • Al Mheiri: ‘Middle East Commission is an esteemed platform to develop innovative ways for regional tourism cooperation’

The 42nd Meeting of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) Commission for the Middle East was held yesterday (Monday, April 24, 2017) on the sidelines of the Arabian Travel Market. Hosted by the UAE, the meeting was attended by H.E. Mohammed Khamis Al Mheiri, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Economy and Advisor to the Minister for Tourism Affairs; H.E. Avedis Guidanian, Lebanese Minister of Tourism and the current Chair of the Middle East Committee; H.E. Dr. Taleb Rifai, Secretary General of UNWTO; and other distinguished Ministers and officials from entities responsible for developing the region’s tourism sector.

The meeting discussed the agenda of the Middle East Committee, followed up the activities of the WTO within the region, and touched on ways to enhance the competitiveness and sustainability of the tourism sector. Preparations for the 22nd session of the General Assembly which will be held in the Chinese city of Chengdu in September of this year were also discussed.

During his speech, H.E. Al Mheiri emphasized the importance of the meeting, which he explained has become one of the most important international platforms for discussing and following up the most important developments and challenges in global tourism.

H.E. Al Mheiri added that the tourism sector accounts for 10 per cent of the world’s GDP, reflecting the growing importance of the sector in promoting global economic development. He noted that the sector is also behind around a third of the world’s service exports and is one of the 11 sectors that provides major job opportunities

He further said that at the national level, tourism is a priority among the directives of the wise leadership to develop the UAE’s economic work system in various sectors. He added that the economic determinants of the National Agenda for UAE Vision 2021 have confirmed the vital role of the tourism sector.

The Undersecretary shared that the UAE has been developing infrastructure for supporting the tourism sector, with its airports, strong aviation sector, world-class tourism facilities and services, high-quality transportation and communications capabilities making visitors’ experiences in the UAE enjoyable and rich.

As part of its vision to build a diversified, globally competitive and knowledge-based economy led by competent Nationals, H.E. Al Mheiri said that the UAE Ministry of Economy has handled the process of strengthening the country’s position as a leading sustainable tourism destination in cooperation with all concerned federal and local authorities and in close contact with the private sector.

He added that the Ministry is currently working with the country’s various tourism stakeholders to develop a national strategy for coordinating efforts and enhancing supportive events, developing innovative tourism products and solutions that showcase the UAE as a distinctive tourism destination with a unified tourism identity, and supporting the unique tourism offerings of each emirate.  Overall, the UAE features a wide spectrum of natural, cultural, and heritage elements and various entertainment attractions.

H.E. also pointed out that tourism’s GDP contribution to the UAE in 2016 stood at 12 per cent, with the total volume of tourism spending throughout the year estimated at AED 110 billion.