SAN SEBASTIAN / WAM
The total contribution of travel and tourism to the nation’s GDP was AED154.1bn, 11.3 percent of UAE’s GDP in 2017 and is forecast to rise by 4.9 percent in 2018, Mohammed Khamis Al Mheiri, Under-Secretary of the Ministry of Economy and Advisor to the Minister for Tourism Affairs, said during the UAE’s participation at the 108th meeting of the Executive Council of the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), held in San Sebastian, Spain.
The UAE is the current Chairman of the UNWTO Commission for the Middle East, CME. Mohammed Kha-mis Al Mheiri, also Special Advisor to the Secretary-General of the UNWTO, said the UAE maintains a good working relationship with the UNWTO, particularly in the area of sharing expertise and programmes.
The 109th, 110th and 111th sessions of the UNWTO Executive Council will take place in Bahrain, Azerbaijan and Russia, respectively.
The Under-Secretary-General, Zurab Pololikashvili, who took office in January 2018, said the UNWTO will focus on five pillars for the period 2018-2019: innovation and the digital transformation; investments and entrepreneurship; education and employment; safe, secure and seamless travel; and social, cultural and environmental sustainability.
In order to address new tourism challenges and trends, and improve the business environment for the sector, the organisation will pay special attention to scaling up innovation and digitalisation in the sector. This will lead to the creation of new job and business opportunities, an increase of investments in tourism, and enhanced competitiveness and sustainability for the sector.