His Majesty, King Abdullah II of Jordan, received UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai, at the Royal Palace in Amman to discuss the strategic importance of the country’s tourism sector, as well as scope for further cooperation between Jordan and UNWTO.
During the meeting, King Abdullah and Mr. Rifai discussed the profile of the tourism sector in the Middle East, one of the fastest growing regions of the past few years, and Jordan’s position as a major tourism destination within the region. In particular, King Abdullah spoke of Jordan’s plans to continue developing its tourism sector in order to maintain its ranking as one of the world’s leading tourism destinations.
Talks also focused on the state of the tourism sector following the economic crisis and Mr. Rifai presented the King with the UNWTO Roadmap for Recovery, outlining tourism’s role as a key driver of job creation, economic growth and development.
“Despite the extremely challenging economic conditions of recent times, Jordan received 3.8 million international tourist arrivals and nearly US$ 3 billion in tourism receipts in 2009,” said Mr. Rifai. “These impressive figures can be attributed, in no small part, to the political recognition afforded to the sector in Jordan,” he added.
Jordan was one of the founding members of UNWTO in 1975 and King Abdullah expressed his desire for the country to play an increasingly active role in the work of the Organization, in particular, his interest in hosting a session of the UNWTO General Assembly.