Meet on ‘economic impact of COVID-19 on tourism in Arab world’ held

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Saif Mohammed Al-Midfa, the CEO of Expo Centre Sharjah during the meeting.
Saif Mohammed Al-Midfa, the CEO of Expo Centre Sharjah during the meeting.

SHARJAH — Saif Mohammed Al-Midfa, the CEO of Expo Centre Sharjah, underlined that the proactive and early recovery efforts made by the UAE’s wise leadership to confront the repercussions of COVID-19 have been an essential factor in the comeback of the tourism, exhibitions, and conferences sector and the acceleration of its recovery.

Al-Midfa made the statement during his participation, representing the Expo Centre, in a joint webinar held recently in Madrid, Spain, by the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and Casa Árabe under the theme “the Economic impact of COVID-19 on the tourism sector in the Arab world”.

Present at the meeting were Basmah Al-Mayman, regional director the Middle East, UNWTO, Raki Phillips, chief executive officer, Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority, UAE, Pedro Martinez Avial, director general, Casa Árabe, Khalid Al Zadjali, director, Oman Convention Bureau, Oman, and Taiseer Al Mallah, acting chief executive officer, Saudi Convention and Exhibitions General Authority, KSA.

The meeting touched on the size of COVID-19 impact on the travel and tourism sector and the exhibitions sector in the Arab countries and its consequences in different areas, employment, and related industries.

During the meeting, Al-Midfa highlighted the efforts exerted by the UAE government to counter COVID-19 repercussions and the most important decisions to help revitalize the tourism sector by leveraging its components in pushing up and accelerating the economic recovery.

“Knowing its importance in restoring the economic flows and tourist activities in the country, the UAE has been keen to resume the activities and events of the exhibitions and business sector since last September,” Al-Midfa noted.

“At Expo Centre, we organized and hosted a number of trade fairs that met with great satisfaction from the visitors and exhibitors with the stringent precautionary and preventive measures to maintain the health and safety of everyone,” he added.

Al-Midfa hinted that the Centre will be organizing around 5 local exhibitions this year, in addition to launching new specialized shows that are expected to attract a large number of exhibiting companies.

Concluding his remarks, the CEO of Expo Centre threw light on the significant role of the travel and tourism sector in achieving sustainable development, where this sector amounts to 10.3% of the total GDP, stressing that tourism, according to 2019’s statistics, has contributed to providing 330 million direct and new employment opportunities and forming 28% of global services exports.

For her part, Al-Mayman said: “Since the outbreak of COVID-19, the UNWTO has been taking measures to assist its members to respond effectively to its impact on their tourism sectors through initiatives such as the formation of a global crisis committee and the formulation of recommendations to mitigate the impacts on travel and tourism.

“The organization has also been offering guidance to member states and the tourism private sector in the region on how to mitigate the negative economic impact of the pandemic and prepare for the recovery of the tourism sector.”

Based on three key pillars; the economic recovery, the marketing and promotion, and the strengthening of corporate roles, the UNWTO has launched a well-fledged package to help revitalize the global tourism sector through longer-term and broader activities, including technical support programs, such as tourism recovery plans or new marketing strategies, shorter-term and specific activities, and the guidance on precautionary measures to ensure the safety of societies from the pandemics. — SG


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