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ATM Virtual: National development strategies examined in Middle East

ATM Virtual: National development strategies examined in Middle East

Tourism strategies to support industry recovery and the use of technology and analytics to create resilience have taken centre stage at Arabian Travel Market’s virtual event, ATM Virtual.

The ‘Bouncing back: tourism strategies for the future’ session discussed the long-term tourism development strategies put in place by the region’s governments to provide a catalyst to recovery when travel patterns return to relative normality.

The panel, which was moderated by industry consultant Gemma Greenwood, included Fahd Hamidaddin, chief of investment, strategy and tourism marketing, ministry of tourism Saudi Arabia, and Keith Tan, chief executive, Singapore Tourism Board.

“We are trying to do things at a bilateral level with countries that we feel we can move forward with. We have announced initiatives such as ‘green lanes’ and introduced the idea of ‘travel bubbles’.

“For example, in our negotiations with China, we have agreed common standards to permit travel and we hope to replicate this with other countries, not dissimilar to the idea of free trade agreements,” said Tan


“We all agree that we don’t want to develop a patchwork of different standards and requirements. But this is not going to be easy,” he added.

Discussing the measure implemented by Saudi Arabia, Hamidaddin highlighted the importance of the industry and the need for government support to help the tourism industry recover.

“We look at the tourism sector from a strategic perspective in Saudi Arabia, but we also realise that this sector contributed 20 per cent of all jobs in the last five years, across the world, underscoring the importance that must be placed on the sector by governments,” said Hamidaddin.

“Our job is to help the private sector survive and weather as much as we can during this pandemic.

“As such, Saudi Arabia launched a US$61 billion stimulus package that went into multiple tracks, including waiving licensing and tourism fees as well as deferring VAT and government fees for all small- and medium-sized enterprises, helping those most in need,” he added.

During the session, Tan outlined the importance of being able to react quickly and develop partnerships between the public-private sectors to address the pandemic.

“The government can’t do everything.

“It is therefore important to have tight public-private partnerships.

“As early as February, we had announced the formation of the Tourism Recovery Action taskforce, comprising private sector individuals and key players from within the government.

“This was designed to layout plans, not only for recovery, but crisis communications, how we engage with the sector, and how we translate the advisories and directives from the health ministry to the tourism sector.

“This has proven to be very effective,” concluded Tan.