The Middle East needs a louder voice in global tourism
The Middle East needs a louder voice in global tourism
The gulf is rich in natural wonders, from the rugged mountains of Oman to the rugged beauty of Saudi Arabia’s vast Rub Al-Khali, and is also home to many of the world’s most important cultural and historical sites.
Over the past two decades, our part of the world has experienced a period of exceptional development, with most economic sectors experiencing positive expansion. The effect of this growth has been positive overall, and one of the strongest performers has been the travel industry.
The sector is growing, with global tourist arrivals expected to reach 2.4 billion by 2027, generating $2.2 trillion in spending. Saudi Arabia is in a strong position to capture its market share, with the Middle East set to become the next magnet for global tourism.
The Middle East’s travel sector is expected to grow by around 27% this year, slightly below the global average of nearly 31%, following a 51% drop in 2020, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council. But the WTTC added that the estimated growth for the Middle East is higher than other regions, such as Europe and Latin America, and represents a $36 billion annual jump in the economy of the region. region.
Tourism is becoming one of the main pillars on which the economies of the region depend, especially for those of us in the Middle East and North Africa region, given our efforts to diversify from of our oil-based economies. The Saudi Vision 2030 social and economic reform plan recognizes the role of tourism, targeting 100 million visitors by the end of this decade.
With the momentum firmly placed on the shoulders of tourism and an overwhelmingly positive outlook for the sector, I was therefore surprised that the Middle East only represents 5% of the UN World Travel Organization’s affiliate membership. .
At the 48th Meeting of the UNWTO Regional Commission for the Middle East, the Red Sea Development Company was appointed to the Board of UNTWO Affiliate Members.
Reviewing the facts and figures that all point to the positive future of the tourism sector in the Middle East, it is extremely important that we support this growth with a strong collective voice on what the region has to offer.
UNWTO is responsible for promoting tourism as a key driver of economic growth and environmental sustainability. Membership enables countries in our region to ensure that the highest international standards and best practices in tourism development are put in place, effectively utilizing the tourism industry as a vehicle for social and economic growth.
Membership allows your organization to gain local, regional and global visibility through UNWTO channels. Affiliate membership is a fundamental tool to increase the competitiveness of the private sector in the industry. And it is for this purpose that I encourage other companies to register.
The meeting provided an excellent opportunity to highlight the importance of partnership between UNWTO and the private sector in unlocking the region’s potential and building a resilient and sustainable sector. UNWTO is the only UN agency that has private sector members participating in its governance structure, and it is this structure that can drive positive change while ensuring our voice is heard on a global platform.
We believe that the private sector can strongly contribute to the development of tourism in the Middle East. It is therefore important to increase the number of UNWTO affiliates with organizations in the Gulf region.
For us, membership reinforces TRSDC’s continued focus on regeneration to help it achieve the highest international standards. Looking at the giga-projects for which we are responsible – the Red Sea and AMAALA – it is clear that a collaborative approach between the private and public sectors can have hugely positive results and set new standards as we strive to welcome our first guests this time. year.
For example, we chose to be 100% off-grid – with no connection to the Kingdom’s national electricity grid – by awarding the Red Sea Utilities infrastructure to a consortium led by ACWA Power under a design, construction, operation and transfer. An off-grid solution removes the impact and strain on existing national infrastructure, establishing the Red Sea Project as a fully self-contained development, taking responsibility for all ingress and egress of its utility services.
The project was implemented through a public-private partnership structure. The partnership benefits from the ability of the private sector to introduce the best solutions and the latest technologies, in line with the vision of TRSDC. A tender document for another public-private utility partnership at AMAALA has already been released to the market, to ensure that the development also meets its sustainability ambitions.
The opening of the UNWTO regional office in Saudi Arabia can be an opportunity to increase the effectiveness of promotional strategies in the Middle East. We believe that current Affiliates in the region and Member States could support this effort.
We have natural and man-made wonders, we’re renowned for our hospitality and I’m sure we have ambition and passion. I encourage you to use your collective voices to promote them.
• Abdullah Alzahrani is Executive Director – Brand and Marketing, The Red Sea Development Company.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed by the authors in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Arab News