UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai, announced today that the United Arab Emirates (UAE) rejoined the Organization 26 years after having left UNWTO. The announcement was made during the UNWTO & Arabian Travel Market Ministerial Forum on Tourism and Aviation ( Dubai , UAE, 7 May 2012).
“The Middle East is one of the fastest growing tourism regions in the world in spite of facing countless challenges; 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” said Mr. Rifai.
“The UAE play 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”, he added.
The UAE and UNWTO will work 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. Between 1980 and 2010, international tourist arrivals in the Middle East rose from 7.1 million to 60.9 million, an average annual increase of 7.4% compared with a world average of 4.2%.
According to UNWTO’s long-term forecast, Tourism Towards 2030, this growth is set to continue; in 2030 arrivals to the Middle East are expected to reach 149 million, an average annual increase of 4.6% compared with a world average of 3.3%.