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Saudi pledges $100m funding for tourism community initiative

The signing took place in Riyadh during the official opening of the first UNWTO regional office 

Saudi Arabia has become the first country to pledge financial support to the Tourism Community Initiative, welcomed in the 2020 G20 Riyadh Leaders’ Declaration and the Diriyah Communiqué for the Tourism Working Group, aligned with the AlUla Framework.

This collaboration is aimed at building an inclusive and resilient tourism ecosystem that leads to job creation, development of the private sector and economic growth through a range of demand-driven investments in line with the country’s needs, development strategies and global sustainable development objectives. 

The Saudi Ministry of Tourism, the World Bank, and the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) have signed an MoU outlining their commitment to collaborate on the activation of the Tourism Community Initiative. 

The collaboration will include a global Multi-Donor Trust Fund (MDTF) to be established by the World Bank, proposed to support the growth of tourism as a key driver of economic development. It would be the first global World Bank fund devoted exclusively to the tourism sector. 

The fund is intended to benefit developing countries around the world by building an inclusive, resilient tourism ecosystem, supporting people who depend on the sector for their livelihoods. The fund aims to raise a total of $500 million in its five-year first phase. 

Ahmed Al Khateeb, Saudi Minister for Tourism, said: “Tourism is a significant force for good, contributing more than 10 percent of global GDP and supporting one in every ten jobs worldwide. Yet, many countries have not been able to benefit from tourism to build their economies, communities and livelihoods.

“At last year’s G20 meeting we pressed for a global commitment to support communities with high tourism potential in taking advantage of the opportunities that sustainable and inclusive tourism can offer. That commitment was enshrined in UNWTO’s AlUla Framework for Inclusive Community Development Through Tourism. The collaboration and the envisioned global World Bank fund are aligned with that Framework.”

Commenting on how tourism has vast potential, Al Khateeb said that the sector can be instrumental in addressing many of the challenges faced by host communities, especially when those communities are small and remote: “Our collaboration with the World Bank and UNWTO and the envisioned global fund mark the first steps on a robust roadmap for recovery that will provide opportunities for empowerment, education and entrepreneurship to people from all walks of life and ensure that tourism remains a sector of hope.”

Saudi Arabia has committed the first $100 million and joined the World Bank in inviting other countries to contribute to the global fund.

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