RIYADH: As the travel and tourism sector begins to recover from the economic impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, experts from around the world will convene in Saudi Arabia to discuss how the industry can move forward.
The Tourism Recovery Summit will be hosted in Riyadh on Wednesday, May 26, led by Saudi Tourism Minister Ahmed Al-Khateeb, and Zurab Pololikashvili, secretary-general of the UN’s World Tourism Organization.
The summit will feature a raft of company chiefs, politicians and other stakeholders from the global aviation, hospitality, travel and tourism business.
“As the world continues to navigate its way through the impact of COVID-19, this summit will focus on the core themes that can help lead the way through recovery and beyond for the tourism sector,” the organizers said.
“After the shock of the near-total standstill caused by the impact of COVID-19, the travel and tourism sector has remained steadfast in the face of adversity. As the industry takes the first tentative steps towards recovery against a backdrop of still rising infection rates in some parts of the world and the rollout of the global vaccination program, industry leaders and other stakeholders are looking at the crisis as a moment of reflection to enable the further inclusive and sustainable growth of the sector,” the organisers said.
International travel restarted in the Kingdom on May 17. Last week at the annual Arabian Travel Market (ATM) Fahd Hamidaddin, CEO of the Saudi Tourism Authority (STA), said the fourth quarter of this year could be a turning point for the Kingdom’s tourism industry as the countries that it is targeting reach a 70 percent vaccination rate.
Saudi Arabia opened up to international tourism in September 2019 and has since announced a number of megaprojects to attract visitors, including a $530 million fund to develop key destinations across the Kingdom. Riyadh aims to raise the contribution of its tourism sector to its GDP from 3 percent to 10 percent, in a bid to modernize its economy and veer away from oil dependence.
Market research firm Euromonitor International estimated in March that inbound tourism spending in Saudi Arabia would reach $25.3 billion by 2025, recovering from the impact of the coronavirus disease pandemic.
Saudi domestic tourism exceeded expectations during the pandemic, despite the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) describing 2020 as “the worst year on record in the history of tourism.”
Figures from the UNWTO in December revealed that destinations welcomed 900 million fewer international tourists between January and October, compared with the same period in 2019 — a 72 percent year-on-year slump.
Saudi Arabia is aiming to raise the contribution of its tourism sector to its GDP from 3 percent to 10 percent, in a bid to modernize its economy and veer away from oil dependence.