Middle Eastern tourism under spotlight at ATM ministerial forum
Taleb Rifai, UNWTO secretary general, will lead the event

Middle Eastern tourism under spotlight at ATM ministerial forum

Visitors to the MENA region will total 195 million by 2030, growing at a rate higher than the world average, according to figures by the World Tourism Organisation. 

The rapid development of the sector will form part of the discussion at the UNWTO & ATM ministerial forum at the Arabian Travel Market this year.

The event will be held from April 24th-27th in Dubai World Trade Centre.

The forum returns to the show repertoire this year, with a particular focus on the contribution of tourism to sustainable economic growth and diversification in the MENA region.

Simon Press, senior exhibition director, ATM, said: “The Middle East has experienced huge changes since the UNWTO Ministers Forum was last held at ATM back in 2015.

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“This year will reflect the pace and level of that development, uniting more than 20 ministers with industry leaders in the MENA region to consider methods of capitalising on tourism growth and building a sustainable ecosystem for the sector to unlock its potential within each country’s National Agenda.

“Specific areas of focus will include GDP growth and economic diversification, innovation, entrepreneurship and productivity, job creation, human capital and infrastructure development, investment and export promotion.”

Tourism has become an undisputed vehicle of advancing the global economy, representing ten per cent of the world’s GDP, 30 per cent of services exports and one in every 11 jobs.

Press said: “Future job creation and entrepreneurship in the regional industry will be a first priority for the Forum.

“The MENA-OECD Investment Programme estimates that, in order to maintain current employment levels, between 25 million and 50 million new jobs will be required over the next decade, requiring an average annual growth rate of 5.5 per cent.”

The forum is one of a number of events in the year-long programme of activities under the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development 2017.

“Tourism has become a key economic activity across the region, particularly in the GCC countries, where it is establishing itself as a pillar and key driver of the modern ‘post–oil’ economies of those countries,” said UNWTO secretary general, Taleb Rifai.

“In addition to generating foreign exchange earnings and creating jobs, tourism promotes trade and investment and significantly contributes to the development of other sectors of the economy - such as construction, manufacture, retail and financial services - and it also contributes significantly to the socio-economic integration of countries of the MENA region,” he concluded.