More than 50 agreements and memorandums of understanding, with a value exceeding $50 billion, were signed on the sidelines of the Global Summit of the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) in Riyadh on Tuesday.
Saudi Tourism Minister Ahmed Al-Khatib said the tourism sector was expected to generate 126 million new jobs in the next decade.
“The opportunity for us as tourism leaders is to focus the energies towards creating an industry fit for the future, an industry that is more sustainable and resilient, and better able to create wealth and unlock opportunities... We must put people and planet first and at the center of every decision we make,” Al-Khatib said in his opening speech.
Millions of jobs
“Tourism will generate 126 million new jobs in the next decade,” the minister noted. “This means that one out of every three new jobs created will be in our sector.”
He emphasized that the Kingdom was reimagining tourism while relying on the strength of partnership.
“A shared commitment to partnership will drive the global industry forward... Last October, we launched the Global Center for Sustainable Tourism as a multi-country, multi-stakeholder organization to lead and accelerate the path towards net zero emissions,” he stated.
Sustainability and youth
Al-Khatib said that within the framework of the Saudi Green Initiative, the Kingdom has launched more than 60 initiatives in 2021. He explained that the first batch of initiatives accounted for more than $186 billion, noting that his country was aware that travelers and investors favored policies that promote sustainability in the industry.
In this context, the Saudi minister announced an ongoing plan to make the Kingdom “a leader in the field of sustainable tourism.”
He continued: “We must make sure that we invest in the future of youth, as two-thirds of the population is under the age of 35... We encourage them to become the tourism leaders of tomorrow... We launched a program to train 100,000 young Saudis every year in this sector.”
Moreover, he said Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s announcement on Monday of the launch of the masterplan for King Salman International Airport will place the Kingdom at the forefront of the world, bolster tourism help implement major projects.
The Saudi Ministry of Tourism revealed a plan to enhance the organizational development process in many areas, in partnership with the private sector, announcing 28 initiatives that will be launched this year to develop the business environment in the field of tourism.
In this regard, Minister of Investment Khalid Al-Falih stressed the importance of government coordination and the integration of work within ministries to achieve success in various sectors.
In remarks during a panel discussion entitled, “Travel for a Better Future”, the minister said the tourism sector would certainly benefit from the growth taking place at various levels in the Kingdom, hoping that the legal frameworks would develop globally to keep pace with the technological progress and thus, facilitate travel, tourism and human interdependence.
Initiatives and partnerships
Princess Haifa Al Saud, Deputy Minister of Tourism, underlined the importance of partnership between the public and private sectors in the development of the Kingdom’s tourism sector.
She said that thanks to continuous efforts, Saudi Arabia was able to register a 121 percent growth in the number of passengers during the first seven months of this year.
The Kingdom considers cooperation at the international level on the one hand, and between the public and private sectors on the other, as an essential element for the tourism sector’s success in achieving its desired goals, she remarked.
Princess Haifa added that determination and joint action were among the most important factors for the success of the Kingdom’s pioneering experience in developing the tourism sector and increasing its value in the national economy and its share in the GDP.
She pointed to a plan to enhance the organizational development process in many areas in partnership with the private sector, revealing 28 initiatives that will be launched this year to develop the business environment in the field of tourism.
Zurab Pololikashvili, Secretary-General of the World Tourism Organization, stressed the strong recovery of travel and tourism and the lessons that the world and institutions operating in the sector have learned from past experiences.
He highlighted the need to develop logistical and financial support mechanisms and permanent coordination with governments, in addition to legislative and regulatory structures and educational systems to keep up with the changes.
Pololikashvili also praised the rapid development of the tourism sector in the Kingdom, which he said was a pioneering model at the international level.
Anthony Capuano, CEO of Marriott International Group, emphasized the importance of the human element in the tourism sector, which lost 60 million jobs during the past two years due to the pandemic.
He pointed to Saudi Arabia’s successful model of partnership between the public and private sectors to develop the human resources that are capable of enriching the sector and improving its experiences.
Supporting 10,000 SMEs in the Saudi tourism sector
The Saudi Tourism Development Fund announced on Tuesday the launch of programs to support 10,000 Saudi SMEs, which are one of the main pillars of economic and social development in the Kingdom.
The Tourism Aid program consists of three sub-programs, which cover the various financial needs of this segment, whether to launch new commercial projects or for the purpose of expanding business.
1st climate footprint in tourism sector
Meanwhile, the World Travel and Tourism Council revealed new data showing the climate footprint for the global travel and tourism sector.
In a speech on the findings of the environmental and social research, Julia Simpson, President and CEO of the World Travel and Tourism Council, announced that thanks to the project, which is one of the largest research projects of its kind ever, the Council will be able to provide accurate reports and track the impact of various sector activities on the environment.
Previous estimates had indicated that the global travel and tourism sector was responsible for up to 11 percent of all global emissions.
However, the World Travel and Tourism Council’s groundbreaking research shows that the sector’s total greenhouse gas emissions were only 8.1 percent in 2019 globally.