Spain and Saudi Arabia join forces to redesign post-Covid tourism

Spain and Saudi Arabia announced a new partnership within the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNTWO) to play a leading role to revitalise the tourism sector after the pandemic, for it to become one of the pillars of global economic recovery.

“The tourism sector needs strong leadership and coordination to bring governments and private sector partners together to work more collaboratively. We need to build a more resilient, sustainable, and inclusive tourism sector that provides prosperity for the long term,” said Saudi Arabia’s tourism minister Ahmed Al Khateeb and Spain’s minister of industry, trade and tourism Maria Reyes Maroto in a joint statement.

Both countries agree to deepen their cooperation on three key issues to develop tourism:

  • Promoting sustainability, which will be essential to guarantee its future viability as a growth sector and its contribution to a decarbonised global economy and reinforcing social inclusiveness within host communities.
  • Collaborating in digital transformation, building smart and connected destinations, optimizing the flow and exchange of information and insights to accelerate the transformation of the tourism sector.
  • To work together to promote and develop training human resources to strengthen the capabilities of the people working in this sector, from vocational training to post graduate studies and specialisation.

Spain is the second-most visited country in the world, receiving 83.7 million international visitors in 2019, and is renowned for its destinations, infrastructures and its world-class tourism firms. During the COVID crisis, Spain has been at the forefront of international efforts to restore mobility as an early adopter of the EU Digital COVID Certificate. Spain is a founding member of the UNWTO and is now investing in a new complex that will house the headquarters of the organisation.

Saudi Arabia has and continues to play a leading role in providing international coordination for the sector, starting with its presidency of the G20 in 2020. The Kingdom has built on this with a number of important initiatives including a USD100 million grant to the World Bank for the Tourism Community Initiative, the Best Villages programme, in partnership with the UNWTO, and now the Sustainable Tourism Global Centre. Saudi Arabia has been working with international partners to build a programme that aims to redesign the future of tourism and address the underlying challenges facing the industry.

“Tourism is a vital global sector. And today’s agreement will ensure that two of the sector’s leaders will work even more closely together for the benefit of all those who depend on it,” the joint statement said.

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