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UNWTO highlights tourism’s contribution to the economic growth in the MENA region at ATM

Date Published: Saturday, April 29, 2017 On the opening day of ATM, the UNWTO and the Arabian Travel Market hosted a ministerial forum on tourism’s contribution to sustainable and inclusive economic growth and diversification in the MENA region. Ministers and senior leaders from nine countries took part in the forum which was chaired by CNN’s Becky Anderson. The ministers came fromBahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Oman, Tunisia, and the UAE as well as Sharjah and Ras Al Khaimahto debate the agenda items. The Chairman of Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority, HE Khalid Al Midfa who was speaking as part of the forum said “It is an honor to present Sharjah in a discussion at this level. This event is extremely important not just because we can discuss best practice with our colleagues from other countries in the region who are all facing similar challenges andof course celebrating their own successes; but it also important that forums at this level spotlight the importance of the whole tourism infrastructure. This year the UNWTO has chosen “Sustainability” in all its forms for its focus. Sustainability is so important to the tourism industry, and it is particularly important that the key decision makers are enabled through the use of all possible technologies to make the correct decision for all our futures. As leaders of tourism destinations we are only the guardians of our natural assets for our future generations and it is important at we all focus on sustainability so that we can honor the trust that is placed on us.” The Chairman focused on innovation and the measures taken by the Authority to harness innovation in the best possible way. Examples of these best practices include Sharjah Government hosting an innovation month; during which the Sharjah Tourism Authority takes a key part in the activities and presentations. As well as this the Chairman outlineshow the Authority has created it’s own innovation lab which ensures all processes are carried out in the best way and this practice is disseminated across all departments. Other areas of innovation include the Tourism SatelliteAccount, this TSA provides the Authority with up to date information and measures tourisms results through providing the factual data on economic performance across the board, including oil related and non-related GDP.The Chairman stressed that the impact of tourism on Sharjah should not be underestimated as it currently contributed 8% to the GDP. His Excellency rounded off the forum by thanking the UNWTO and the Arabian Travel Market for providing a forum to spotlight the work of local tourism authorities and stressed that the Authority was just touching the tip of the iceberg in utilizing technology in its every day practice and that the new developments in technology available promised an exciting future for all industries across the world.