The Meetings of the Arab Ministerial Council and its Executive Council Conclude in Al Ahsa



The Meetings of the Arab Ministerial Council and its Executive Council Conclude in Al Ahsa

The 25th session of the Executive Council for the Arab ministerial council for tourism and the 22nd session of the Arab Tourism Council concluded on Monday after they were held in Al Ahsa, the 2019 Arab capital for Tourism, between December 22 and 23, where the meetings were headed by His Excellency Mr. Ahmed bin Aqil Al Khateeb, chairman of the Board of Directors of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage, in the presence of Arab tourism ministers and a number of Arab and international organizations. 
 
His Excellency Mr. Ahmed Al Khateeb stressed that this meeting was aimed at highlighting the importance of the joint Arab action in the field of tourism, considering that the Kingdom and the rest of Arab countries have available opportunities to develop this sector and changing it into an important source to support the economies of Arab countries, in a way that equals the average of international tourism contribution that reaches up to 10 per cent, while the rate is only 3 per cent in the Arab world. 
 
Al Khateeb added that the results of our meetings will have direct positive impact that can contribute to realizing real outcomes that can play a role in increasing the economic returns and providing more jobs, noting that the issue can be realized through increasing coordination among all Arab countries through several aspects, including providing training opportunities to employees in the tourism sectors, pumping more investments, creating a system for tourism security and developing a system that conforms to the international achievements. 
 
Al Khateeb also said that the joint tourism action does not threaten any Arab country, yet it increase options available for tourists, which makes all Arab countries benefit from the annual increase in tourist numbers at the international level. 
 
Al Khateeb stressed that the Kingdom has announced earlier in the year opening its doors for tourists from all around the globe, pointing out that this option aims at translating part of the Saudi Vision 2030. He explained that the Kingdom works according to a national strategy that seeks to transform tourism into a huge investment sector that can generate returns that equal 10 per cent of the gross domestic product and lower unemployment rates to 6 per cent, where His Excellency said that the Kingdom aspires to become the fifth biggest country in the world in welcoming tourists through attracting some 100 million tourists in 2030. 

He announced that the Kingdom has invited tourism ministers to participate in the facilitated tourism forum that will be held in 2020 in Riyadh with the aim of shedding light on the Kingdom’s experience in the field of humanizing cities, the sports route project in Riyadh and projects of the quality life that can contribute to offering facilitated tourism.  


 
Al Khateeb said that the Kingdom has launched an initiative to hold an Arab program to develop the tourist human resources, in addition to a project that aims at developing studies and research that aim at reaching clear outcomes that can boost the utilization of all available opportunities for Arab cooperation and integration in the field of tourism. 
 
His Excellency the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage added that we in the Kingdom have recently launched the National Platform for Tourist Monitoring to become as a comprehensive center for statistics and data related to the tourism sector, with the aim of monitoring the performance of accommodation facilities and the tourist movement, out of our belief in the contribution of e-transformation to developing the sector and attracting investments. Bahrain was the first country to suggest activating the aspect related to tourist information and statistics to support the Arab strategy for tourism. 
 
The meeting focused on challenges related to tourism security and mechanism of facing them, reviewed the updated draft for the Arab strategy for tourism document, activating the utilization of benefiting from tourist information and statistics to develop the Arab strategy for tourism, went over criteria that have been updated to choose the capital of Arab tourism, in addition to discussing the decisions of the second joint meeting that was held in Tunisia in October 2019 with the participation of ministers of tourism and ministers of culture. 
 
The meeting also elected members of the executive council for the Arab ministerial council for 2020-2021, which included Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Jordan, Morocco, Iraq, Egypt and Tunisia. 
 
The participants in the meeting agreed that the 27th session of the executive council for 2020 to be held in Cairo, and chose Manama as the 2020 Capital for Arab Tourism. 
 
The meeting was a good opportunity to shed light on Al Ahsa and the sites registered at the UNESCO World Heritage List, especially that Al Ahsa is the 2019 Capital for Arab Tourism, in the presence of Arab media outlets representing all participating countries.