MENA tourism and economic growth in the spotlight
Visitors to the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region will total 195 million by 2030, growing at a rate higher than the world average.
New figures from the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) also show that between 25 million and 50 million new jobs will be required in the region over the next decade.
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 24 April in the Dubai World Trade Centre, United Arab Emirates. More than 20 Ministers and industry leaders will gather to discuss how tourism can play a role in the future of the MENA region.
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.
Taleb Rifai, UNWTO secretary-general, said: “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.”
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.”