Saudi Ministry of Tourism, the World Bank, and the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) outlining their commitment to collaborate on the activation of the Tourism Community Initiative. This collaboration is aimed at building an inclusive and resilient tourism ecosystem that leads to job creation, the development of the private sector, and economic growth through a range of demand-driven investments in line with country needs, development strategies, and global sustainable development objectives. The signing of the MoU took place in Riyadh during the official opening of the first UNWTO regional office outside of the Madrid HQ.
His Excellency 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 that 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 as mentioned in the signed MoU are aligned with that Framework,” he added.
“This initiative has support at the highest levels of all three organization and we are committed to working together towards the advancement of the tourism sector globally” said Issam Abousleiman, Regional Director for the Gulf Cooperation Council Countries at the World Bank. “Cross-border, multi-lateral collaboration is essential to rebuilding and enhancing the global tourism sector, especially after the impact that the pandemic has had in terms of travel restrictions and impact on economies and livelihoods. Once established later this year, the proposed global fund will provide valuable support to poor communities and small businesses to be able to benefit of the socio-economic benefits that tourism brings, while keeping in focus the need for safe, sustainable and above all enjoyable travel.”
“This collaboration is a landmark initiative that brings together UNWTO’s tourism expertise, the World Bank’s developmental and financial capabilities and Saudi Arabia’s commitment to support the growth of the global tourism sector,” said Zurab Pololikashvili, UNWTO Secretary General. “This level of cooperation across governments and multi-lateral institutions is what we need to restart and rebuild tourism. It also reflects UNWTO’s commitment to facilitate the creation of a finance framework and architecture that will build resilience and drive sustainable and inclusive development for both economies and societies, fully in line with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.”
“Tourism has vast potential and can be instrumental in addressing many of the challenges faced by host communities, especially when those communities are small and remote,” said, His Excellency Ahmed Al Khateeb. “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.”