The World Travel & Tourism Council Global Summit – the most influential event on the annual travel and tourism industry’s international calendar – which began its 13th edition in the UAE capital today, has returned to the home of hospitality, according to His Excellency Mubarak Al Muhairi, director general of Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority.
Welcoming the gathering of almost 1,000 industry leaders, including keynote speaker, president Bill Clinton, to Abu Dhabi, Al Muhairi said the staging of the summit in the UAE capital represented a key milestone in the emirate’s tourism evolution.
“Since Abu Dhabi began its tourism journey almost nine years ago, we have achieved a number of milestones. This summit ranks among them,” said Al Muhairi.
“When we began our journey we received a polite, yet if we’re honest, a rather skeptical welcome onto the tourism scene.
“Some saw us as dreamers, others as overly ambitious and under-developed.
“They seemed to forget that this is where the concept of travellers hospitality began.”
Al Muhairi cited the Arabian Gulf’s reputation for taking hospitality to legendary proportions.
“It is here that hospitality was required by sheer way of life and tradition. A traveller, no matter who, or where from, was obliged to be given food and shelter for a minimum of three days before he continued his journey,” he explained.
“The adventurer Wilfred Thesiger, who we recall with fondness as Mubarak Bin London, recorded how, in his crossings of our Liwa desert, his unsuspecting hosts would often go without sustenance to ensure he slept, and ate, well and gathered his strength for trials ahead.
“This region is rich with hospitality heritage. It is part of a past we are proud of and, we believe, integral to the future ahead.”
Al Muhairi said in jointly hosting the summit with Etihad Airways, Abu Dhabi was looking to the international industry to look beyond its differences and work together to improve the quality of life for destinations and their people.
“What you will experience over the two days is not simply a product of financial resources.
“It is also a product of vision, hard work and determination on the part of many who have worked to make sure you leave this summit, and this emirate, with greater understanding, knowledge and a positive cultural experience.
“That’s something money just can’t buy,” said the director general.
The 13th Global Summit’s theme of ‘A Time For Leadership’ also resonated well with Abu Dhabi, and the UAE, which is blessed with visionary leaders, said Al Muhairi.