Rita Marques, secretary of state for Tourism of Portugal, revealed that her country is eyeing the conclusion of an agreement with Saudi Arabia in the field of international air transport soon.
Marques pointed out that her participation at the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) Global Summit, which was recently held in Riyadh, had presented a vital occasion to share ideas that promote common points, such as sustainable tourism.
She affirmed Portugal’s readiness to share its best practices and help in designing training exchange programs with Saudi Arabia. This comes to establish prolific dialogue and cooperation between the two countries.
It is fruitful to be able to conclude an international air transport agreement between Portugal and the Kingdom, and to cooperate on future trends and policies such as sustainability, digitization, or forms of attracting investment for innovation and research, stressed Marques.
Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat, Marques pointed to the role played by the tourism sector in enhancing ties between countries.
She highlighted Saudi Arabia and Portugal’s ability to develop cooperation, share good practices, exchange knowledge, and build skills development programs. The two countries can do so alongside their plans and programs related to sustainability and innovation, added Marques.
Regarding trade between Portugal and the Kingdom, Marques noted that her country has a trade deficit with Saudi Arabia, but she added that total exports in 2022 will achieve their best results since 2017.
About services, Marques said that they also suffered from a trade deficit. However, she hoped that in 2022 the figures will bounce back to what they were before the coronavirus pandemic.
According to Marques, total Portuguese exports of goods and services to the Kingdom in 2021 amounted to 142 million euros. Meanwhile, imports amounted to 326 million euros.
As for pressures and crises facing tourism, Marques insisted on the need for highlighting the innovative capacity of companies and destination managers and creating new business approaches, service concepts and experiences that completely revolutionize the industry.
In recent years, the entry of new market players, international investors and the attraction of international brands have revolutionized the dynamics and attractiveness of Portugal’s regions, noted Marques.
It is noteworthy that the most influential travel and tourism event in the calendar, WTTC’s record breaking Global Summit in Riyadh was attended by more than 85 countries and over 50 ministers.
During the event, WTTC and the Saudi Ministry of Tourism launched the Environmental & Social Research (ESR).
This groundbreaking new data details the climate footprint of the global travel and tourism sector. The research covers 185 countries across all regions and will be updated each year with the latest figures.
WTTC also launched its Cities Economic Impact Report (EIR).
Addressing delegates during her closing speech, WTTC President and CEO Julia Simpson said: “Saudi Arabia will be the next major destination for visitors as it invests $800 billion in showcasing the Kingdom to the world.”
“From the Red Sea to snow-capped mountains, Saudi is full of surprises,” added Simpson.