Tourism Minister Stresses: The Tourism Industry is Facing Challenges that Require International Action to Revive the Sector Once the Coronavirus is Controlled

Tourism Minister Stresses: The Tourism Industry is Facing Challenges that Require International Action to Revive the Sector Once the Coronavirus is Controlled

His Excellency Tourism Minister Mr Ahmed bin Aqil Al Khateeb highlighted the importance for the World Tourism Organization to work side by side with the private sector and the entire international community to develop tangible and decisive solutions to alleviate the repercussions of the decreasing tourism revenues at the international level. 

Al Khateeb’s remarks were made during a remote meeting that was called for by the World Tourism Organization with the participation of the World Health Organization and officials of the tourism industry from various continents of the world, where the meeting went over the repercussions of the spread of the coronavirus on the world and the negative economic consequences of the outbreak of the virus. 

During the meeting, several officials made their remarks on the issue, including Mr. Zurab Pololikashvili, Secretary General of the World Tourism Organization, who inaugurated the gathering with a brief statement, and Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the Director General of the World Health Organization . 

Also during the meeting, Al Khateeb referred to the Kingdom’s role as chair of the G20 for 2020, noting that Saudi Arabia seeks, in cooperation with its partners, to find suitable means to revive world economies, including the tourism industry that is facing enormous challenges as a result of halting the international aviation activities and stopping the travelling activity due to endeavours by all societies to overcome the spread of COVID-19 and its impacts, as well as protecting human lives and the international economy. 

He added that we in the Kingdom, as a tourist destination with big potential for growth, trust the flexibility of the tourism sector at the medium and long terms, but this is not enough with regards to the need to exert more efforts and provide immediate support to the sector. We are having direct consultations with our main partners worldwide, including partners in the tourism industry, the World Travel and Tourism Council and the World Tourism Organization to guarantee ongoing efforts in developing proper measures to support the tourism sector in the Kingdom.   

His Excellency the Tourism Minister also pointed out that the current circumstances has created a reality that negatively affected the tourism industry in the entire world, stressing that the health of humans is apriority for the Kingdom as it is for all countries and civilised communities.

Al Khateeb​ also emphasised that this pandemic requires a strong international response and implementing multilateral procedures to mitigate the impact on the tourism industry, revealing that estimations of the World Travel and Tourism Council show that there is a possible drop in the number of tourism at the international level by 25 per cent this year, which means jeopardising some 50 million jobs in the world. 

The minister of tourism also said that the Kingdom has formed a higher committee from various government sectors once China announced the virus in late 2019, which helped the Kingdom to protect the society of its impact and narrow the number of infected cases through a series of procedures that included halting umra, suspending schools, closing malls and public places, and suspending visas for countries with high risks, before the decisions temporarily ban all flights from and to the country.

He also added that concerned authorities also encouraged public and private employees to work remotely under these prevailing circumstances and obliging restaurants and coffee shops to only make delivery orders, noting that while the Kingdom and the entire world are exerting efforts to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus, all are required to move quickly to reduce its economic effects. In this regard, the minister said that the Kingdom has announced pumping 50 billion riyals to mitigate the economic impacts of the current crisis.