United Arab Emirates rejoins UN World Tourism Organization

WAM NEW YORK: The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has rejoined the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) after 26 years of having left the entity, it was announced on Wednesday.

“The UAE plays a central role not only in the development of tourism in the region but also in linking the Middle East with other regions and we expect that by working together we will enhance tourism within and to the Emirates as well as increase regional cooperation,” said the UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai at the UNWTO ‘&’ Arabian Travel Market Ministerial Forum on Tourism and Aviation in Dubai.

UNWTO, in a news release, said it will work with UAE on several initiatives including the measurement of the economic impact of tourism, statistics and human resources development.

The Middle East is one of the fastest growing tourism regions in the world. According to the UNWTO, between 1980 and 2010, international tourist arrivals in the Middle East rose from 7.1 million to 60.9 million. This represents an average annual increase of 7.4 per cent, which is higher that the world s average of 4.2 per cent, the international organization.

Rifai said that tourism in the region continued to grow despite the countless challenges it faced. “Much of this dynamism has been led by the strong political commitment awarded to tourism in the region and the vision that tourism is a key pillar of development in the Middle East of which the UAE is a perfect example,” he said.

UNWTO estimates that tourism growth in the Middle East is set to continue, with arrivals expected to reach 149 million by 2030.

Welcoming the development, Mohammad Khamis Bin Hareb Al Muhairi, director-general of the UAE National Council of Tourism and Antiquities, told the Gulf News: “This will help us to play a greater role in the global tourism industry and share our success story. This is good The NCTA’s role is to consolidate efforts of tourism authorities in the UAE and co-ordinate efforts to preserve and maintain UAE’s antiquities through unified external representation and co-operation with international organizations, governmental and non-governmental.

UNWTO’s membership includes 155 countries, six Associate Members and over 400 Affiliate Members representing the private sector, educational institutions, tourism associations and local tourism authorities.

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