The Kingdom Hosts the 46th Meeting of the UN World Tourism Organisation for the Middle East in Al Baha

​The Kingdom hosts the 46th meeting of the UN World Tourism Organisation for the Middle East in Al Baha

The 46th meeting of the UN World Tourism Organisation for the Middle East that was hosted by the Kingdom concluded today in the presence of His Excellency Minister of Tourism Mr Ahmed bin Aqil Al Khateeb.

The meeting, which was held from Al Baha, coincided with the checkup visit by His Excellency to Asir and Baha to ensure of the readiness of hotels and other facilities to receive tourists during the Saudi Summer Season. 

Attendees of the meeting, which was headed by the UAE, included Mr Zurab Pololikashvili, Secretary General of the UNWTO and tourism leaders from member states of the Middle Ease committee and officials of relevant Arab and international organisations, as well as Regional Director of the Middle East Region at UNWTO Ms Basma Miman.

The meeting discussed the challenges facing the Middle East and the world in the tourism sector due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

His Excellency Mr Ahmed bin Aqil Al Khateeb, in his speech, stressed that the meeting hosted by the Kingdom is a continuation of Saudi Arabia's efforts in addressing the COVID-19 pandemic, noting that the Kingdom has hosted the following meetings:
The meeting of tourism ministers at the G20 Group to discuss the COVID-19 pandemic and its repercussions on the tourism sector at the international level on April 24, 2020.
The emergency meeting for the Arab Ministerial Council of Tourism to discuss the mechanism to counter the challenges facing the region due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which was held on June 17, 2020

These meetings are held in during a phase that requires activating joint action to face the challenges witnessed in the Middle East and the entire world in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, Khateeb said, noting that this meeting was scheduled to be held in Saudi Arabia in April, but the prevailing circumstances due to the COVID-19 pandemic prevented holding it.

His Excellency the minister of tourism praised the efforts made by the World Tourism Organisation, saying that the crisis committee that was formed by the committee, and Saudi Arabia was a member, helped in administrating the files tasked with addressing in an efficient way to enhance cooperation between the organization and stakeholders in the tourism sector, including: the recovery plan, technical assistance pack, the organisation's regulations for international tourism information and other initiatives that were launched by the organization and was keen to make it available for interested sides through the website of the organisation.  

Al Khateeb also stressed the solid ties and deep-rooted partnership between the Kingdom and the World Tourism Organisation, saying: We consider the organisation one of the main partners and we work with it on several projects, including the preparation of a study on the women contribution in the tourism sector in the Middle East region, out of our belief in women's role in the development process, and we are also working to host the meeting and conferences of the organisation in the Kingdom to highlight the Kingdom's tourist attractions.

Al Khateeb​ also referred to the issuance of the Council of Ministers decision on June 17, 2020, which approved the tourism development fund bylaw with a capital of 15 billion Saudi riyals, considering the decision as one of the most important steps that the Kingdom has made recently to support the tourism sector, where the fund aims at stimulating the tourism industry, diversifying the sources of the national income, creating more investment opportunities that can attract investors from inside and outside the Kingdom, and developing distinguished tourist destinations and experiences with an world level.

As for the Kingdom's role through its presidency to the G20 Group at the tourism level, Al Khateeb reiterated that work is ongoing to enhance international efforts to support the tourism sector, noting that April witnessed holding an extraordinary meeting with the tourism ministers of G20 group member states to discuss the negative impacts that affected the tourism sector as a result of the crisis, expressing aspiration for the tourism ministers in October to discuss the most prominent developments and stressing the importance of going on with international joint action. 

He added: We are working to realise tangible procedures through governments at the regional and international levels to provide solutions that support the tourism sector and working with governments and international organisations to include the travel and tourism sector in the economic recovery programme, where the Kingdom was among the first countries to adopt the initiative related to the global safety stamp, in addition to cooperation with the World Travel and Tourism Council to develop international safety protocols. 

Regarding to the procedures the Kingdom adopted for the back to normalcy, His Excellency said: We in the Kingdom have chosen a gradual approach for the economic recovery with giving the priority to the safety of citizens and residents, where we launched the events of the Saudi Summer under the motto "Breathe" to start a tourist season that lasts for more than 100 days, and I am speaking to you today from Al Baha, one of the beautiful summer destination in the Kingdom.

His Excellency the minister of tourism reiterated the importance of coordination and cooperation among member states of the organization and benefiting from international expertise, enhancing the confidence concept among tourists locally and then externally through reopening borders and at the same time providing the highest health standards for safe travels.