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MENA Tourism and economic growth under the spotlight.
Friday, 17th March 2017
Source : World Tourism Organization (UNWTO)

The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) are expected to welcome 195 million international tourists by 2030, and between 25 million and 50 million new jobs will be required in the region over the next decade.

Over 20 Ministers and industry leaders will gather at the Ministerial Forum to discuss how tourism can play a role in the future of the MENA region.

Visitors to the MENA region will total 195 million by 2030, growing at a rate higher than the world average, according to figures by the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).

The rapid development of the sector will form part of the discussion at the UNWTO & ATM Ministerial Forum at the Arabian Travel Market, taking place on April 24 in the Dubai World Trade Centre, United Arab Emirates. The Forum, an official event of the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development 2017 returns to ATM this year, with a particular focus on the contribution of tourism to sustainable economic growth and economic diversification of the MENA region.

“Tourism is an increasingly important sector to support the economic diversification of the region. In addition to generating foreign exchange earnings and creating jobs, tourism promotes trade and investment and significantly contributes to the development of other sectors of the economy - such as construction, manufacture, retail and financial services.” said UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai.

Simon Press, Senior Exhibition Director, ATM, said: “The Middle East has experienced huge changes since the UNWTO Ministers Forum was last held at ATM back in 2015. This year will reflect the pace and level of that development, uniting more than 20 ministers with industry leaders in the MENA region to consider methods of capitalising on tourism growth and building a sustainable ecosystem for the sector to unlock its potential within each country’s National Agenda. Specific areas of focus will include GDP growth and economic diversification, innovation, entrepreneurship and productivity, job creation, human capital and infrastructure development, investment and export promotion.”

The Forum is one of a number of events in the year-long programme of official activities of the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development 2017.

In his message on the occasion of the Year, United Nations Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, said: “Tourism has become a pillar of economies, a passport to prosperity, and a transformative force for improving millions of lives. The world can and must harness the power of tourism as we strive to carry out the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.”

Taking place on Monday, 24 April from 3.30pm, the Forum will be held under the patronage of H.E. Sultan bin Saeed Al Mansouri, Minister of Economy of the United Arab Emirates. This will follow the 42nd meeting of the UNWTO Commission for the Middle East which is being held at 10am in the morning.

The Forum will address the following issues:

  • Empowering evidence based decision making and accurate measurement of the contribution of tourism to current and future economic growth - particularly as regards GDP, jobs and exports - and its multiplier effect on other sectors of the economy.
  • Enhancing the contribution of domestic tourism alongside international tourism (especially intra-regional) in delivering sustainable economic growth from the sector.
  • Main challenges and opportunities for securing investment in tourism (FDI and domestic investment).
  • Strategies and measures to strengthen tourism’s resilience to external shocks.
  • Ensuring that economic growth due to tourism leads to the sustainable and inclusive development of host communities and the transition towards a green economy.
  • Investing in technology - driven innovations to enhance performance and improve competitiveness.
  • Policies to promote job creation and entrepreneurship
  • Strengthening the sector’s institutional framework, engaging and aligning key governmental role players on tourism policy issues and targets and developing result driven partnerships with local and international stakeholders.
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