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Saudi Arabia and UNWTO deepen partnership to promote tourism

The move comes less than a year after the official opening of UNWTO’s Middle East office in Riyadh

The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and Saudi Arabia have announced the next steps that both parties will take in order to establish tourism as a driver of growth, opportunity and development across the Middle East and beyond.

A range of projects is being designed to establish UNWTO’s regional office in Riyadh as a leader in tourism while also making the opportunities available to everyone through a range of educational initiatives.

Meeting in Madrid this week, UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili and Saudi Minister for Tourism Ahmed Aqeel AlKhateeb agreed to further advance their shared vision and committed to working closely together to fulfil the sector’s potential across the region.

Among the projects being managed by the regional office is the UNWTO Global Tourism and Rural Development Programme.

The aim is to make tourism a pillar of growth and opportunity for rural communities

In addition, the regional office will also focus on knowledge creation for policy and business practices, training and skills development, and technical assistance on the ground, with plans in place to establish a Tourism and Rural Development Observatory in Riyadh.

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Secretary-General Pololikashvili and Minister Ahmed Aqeel AlKhateeb emphasised their commitment to guiding tourism based on education and innovation. The UNWTO Digital Futures Programme aims to provide training on connectivity, e-commerce, big data and analytics, and online payments and security, to as many as 20,000 SMEs in 22 countries.

To ensure the benefits of tourism education are enjoyed as widely as possible, 10 new online courses will be made available in Arabic through the UNWTO Tourism Online Academy

UNWTO will also work with higher education providers from the region through the new Tourism Faculty Development Programme.

Lastly, in line with UNWTO’s wider commitment to advancing tourism for climate action, plans are in place to make the regional office for the Middle East a hub for promoting green investments in the tourism sector, both in the region and worldwide. This includes projects developed in partnership with the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the Saudi Tourism Development Fund (TDF).

For more information, visit www.unwto.org

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