UAE calls for enhancing cooperation among Middle East countries to build a sustainable & innovative tourism sector


H.E. Bin Touq leads UAE delegation to the 25th UNWTO General Assembly in Uzbekistan.

H.E. Abdulla bin Touq Al Marri, Minister of Economy and Head of the Emirates Tourism Council, led the UAE delegation to the 25th edition of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) General Assembly held in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, from 16 to 20 October, 2023.

The UAE attended the session in its capacity as UNWTO’s Vice President for the Middle East region, after being selected for this honorary position in the 24th session, which was held in Jordan. H.E. Bin Touq said that being selected to represent the Middle East region at the important forum reflects leading global organizations’ confidence in the key role played by the UAE in addressing global challenges through its constructive initiatives, thus promoting well-being and prosperity for all.

H.E. Bin Touq said: “The Middle East region boasts several unique tourism advantages and elements that make it a key player in the global tourism landscape and a sustainable destination for tourists from all around the world. The region has a rich and diverse cultural heritage, unique historical monuments, and advanced infrastructure, and is known for superior hospitality.”

“There countries in the Middle East need to enhance cooperation among them to reformulate tourism goals and policies to build a sustainable and innovative tourism sector that can support their economies in the long term. This can be achieved by launching innovative projects that are compatible with the tourism identities of each country, as well as through the launch of entertainment programs that meet the aspirations of visitors coming to the region. There also can be a more effective role for UNWTO in supporting these efforts, be it through training, marketing or financing,” he added. 

H.E. Bin Touq emphasized that the UAE is keen to support all global efforts in general and efforts of the Middle Eastern countries in particular to shape the future of the global tourism sector. He called for more effective mechanisms that contribute to enhancing tourism movement globally and providing them with unique experiences through the adoption of joint measures that support the sustainable growth of this vital sector, and meet the aspirations of the Organization’s member states.

H.E. the Minister underlined the need to make room for greater participation by the private sector in the launch of innovative tourism services that rely entirely on technology. H.E. also highlighted the importance of supporting startups operating in the sector and providing them with all enablers to benefit from unique ideas that contribute to developing tourism in a sustainable manner. The upskilling of professionals in the field on an ongoing basis and empowering them with the latest expertise and technologies is equally important, noted H.E. Bin Touq.

The 25th UNWTO General Assembly discussed an array of key topics, most notably the Organization’s performance over the last two years, with the participation of tourism sector representatives from the UNWTO’s 160 member states. In addition, the meeting discussed the Organization’s future plans to develop the global tourism sector through the development of partnerships and enhance professional competencies of the sector’s personnel, in addition to developing the UNWTO’s governance to be more flexible and effective.

According to the World Tourism Organization report issued in July 2023, global tourism movement witnessed an 84 per cent recovery from pre-pandemic levels, as about 700 million international tourists traveled between January and July 2023, with 43 per cent year-over-year growth. The Middle East region witnessed a growth in the number of arrivals during the period from January to July 2023, exceeding pre-pandemic levels by 20 per cent.

UNWTO was established in 1975 and is one of the United Nations organizations. It has 160 members and is headquartered in Madrid, Spain. The Organization is concerned with the overall development of the global tourism sector by enhancing its competitiveness and sustainability, creating more jobs, exchanging expertise and experiences, and building partnerships. The UAE is one of the founding members of UNWTO and is a key member in the Middle East region. It is also a member of the Organization’s Executive Council since 2021.