SAMARKAND, Uzbekistan, October 18, 2023/WAM – Abdullah bin Touq Al Marri, Minister of Economy and Chairman of the Emirates Tourism Council, led the UAE delegation participating in the 25th Session of the UN World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) General Assembly, which is currently being held in the city of Samarkand, Uzbekistan. The session will continue until October 20, 2023.
The UAE, represented by the Chairman of the Emirates Tourism Council, is participating in the work of this session in its capacity as Vice-President of the UNWTO General Assembly for the Middle East region, after being chosen for this honorary position at the 24th Session held in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.
In this regard, Abdullah bin Touq stressed that the UAE’s selection to represent the Middle East during this important occasion reflects the trust of international institutions in the key role that the UAE plays in supporting global issues through its constructive initiatives aimed at promoting the well-being and prosperity of all peoples of the world, in implementation of the directives of the wise leadership.
In his speech, Bin Touq highlighted the many unique tourism assets of the Middle East, including its rich and diverse cultural heritage, unique historical landmarks, and developed infrastructure and hospitality. He noted that these assets make the region a sustainable destination for tourists from all over the world.
Bin Touq also called for enhanced cooperation between Middle Eastern countries to develop new targets and policies for building a more sustainable and innovative tourism sector that would contribute more to their long-term economic growth. He suggested that this could be achieved by launching innovative tourism projects tailored to each country’s unique tourism assets, as well as developing entertainment programs that meet the expectations of visitors. He also called for the UNWTO to play a more active role in supporting these efforts through training, marketing, and financing.
Bin Touq reaffirmed the UAE’s commitment to supporting global and Middle Eastern efforts to shape the future of the global tourism sector. He called for the development of more effective mechanisms to boost tourist movement between all countries of the world and provide visitors with unique tourism experiences. He also stressed the importance of adopting joint steps to support the sustainable growth of this vital sector and meet the aspirations of all UNWTO member states.
Bin Touq urged for greater private sector involvement in launching innovative tourism projects that leverage technology to provide services. He also called for support for tourism startups to develop pioneering ideas that contribute to the sustainable development of tourism. In addition, he stressed the importance of continuously training and developing human resources in the tourism sector with the latest expertise and technologies.
The 25th Meeting of the UNWTO General Assembly discussed a number of topics, including the organisation’s performance over the past two years, its future plans for developing the global tourism sector, and how to make its governance more flexible and effective. Representatives from the tourism sector from all 160 member states participated in the meeting.
According to a UNWTO report issued in July 2023, international tourist traffic has recovered by 84% from pre-COVID-19 levels. Around 700 million international tourists traveled between January and July 2023, an increase of 43% from the same months in 2022. The Middle East region also saw growth in visitor numbers during this period, with visitor numbers exceeding pre-pandemic levels by 20%.
The UNWTO was founded in 1975 and is affiliated with the United Nations. It has 160 member states and is headquartered in Madrid, Spain. The organization is concerned with the development of the global tourism sector. The UAE is one of the founding members of the organization and an important member in the Middle East region. The UAE has been a member of the organisation’s Executive Council since 2021