Minister of Economy holds meetings with Brazil, Spain, Uzbekistan, Georgia and UNWTO to strengthen tourism cooperation

ABU DHABI, 22nd October, 2023 (WAM) -- Abdulla bin Touq Al Marri, Minister of Economy, held meetings with Celso Sabino, Minister of Tourism of Brazil; Rosa Ana Morello Rodríguez, Minister of State for Tourism of Spain; Aziz Abdel Hakimov, Minister of Environment, Environmental Protection and Climate Change and responsible for the tourism portfolio of Uzbekistan; Mariam Kvrishvili, Deputy Minister of Economy and Sustainability of Georgia; and Zurab Pololikashvili, Secretary-General of the World Tourism Organisation; to explore ways to develop the national and global tourism sectors.

The meetings took place on the sidelines of Al Marri's participation in the 25th Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO).

The UAE participated in the capacity of Vice President for the Middle East in the meeting held in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, from 16th to 20th October 2023.

Strengthening UAE - Brazil bilateral cooperation

During a meeting, Bin Touq and Brazilian Minister of Tourism explored the means to strengthen cooperation between the two countries, emphasising the depth and vitality of existing ties, which are witnessing continued growth in all areas of mutual interest.

He emphasised the UAE government’s desire to build on the current momentum in the bilateral relations between the two countries to explore more promising opportunities in both markets. It will help create new pathways for the private sector and startup communities of the two countries to expand and prosper in new economy sectors in general and the tourism sector in particular.

He pointed out the need to work on new mechanisms that contribute to boosting tourism traffic between the two countries, while also increasing the number of flights between them.

Bin Touq said, “Thanks to the wise leadership’s guidance, the UAE’s tourism sector has made great strides within a short period of time and has emerged as an influential player at the forefront of the global efforts to develop this key sector. The UAE has proved the strength and competitiveness of its tourism sector and its continuous development before the world. The UAE’s fourth-ranking globally in international tourist spending, which totaled AED224 billion in 2022 according to the UNWTO report, confirms this.”

Celso Sabino reiterated the importance of the strategic partnership between the UAE and Brazil, stating that it is necessary to take advantage of the growth in bilateral cooperation in the tourism sector.

The two ministers agreed to support tourism flows between the UAE and Brazil through a series of joint programs and initiatives with the broad participation of the private sector, and to maximise the tourism sector's contribution to both nations’ GDP.

140,000 visitors travel between UAE and Spain in 2022

In another meeting with Rosa Anna Rodriguez, Minister of State for Tourism of Spain, Bin Touq emphasised the depth of bilateral relations between the UAE and Spain and the importance of exploring more opportunities including those in the tourism sector to support joint sustainable development efforts.

He said, “Spain plays a pivotal role at the helm of UNWTO as a permanent member of the Organisation, and contributes significantly to the promotion of responsible and sustainable tourism. We reaffirm our commitment to supporting the Organisation’s efforts and to deepening cooperation with Spain and all other UNWTO member states to support and develop the global tourism sector.”

The meeting also discussed ways to increase tourism exchanges between the two sides. In 2022, a total of 140,000 visitors travelled between the two countries. The ministers noted the importance of introducing new mechanisms that enhance this momentum sustainable and contribute to the development of joint tourism projects.

Encouraging tourism and aviation movement between the UAE and Uzbekistan

Bin Touq’s meeting with Aziz Abdulkhakimov, Minister of Ecology, Environmental Protection, and Climate Change of Uzbekistan, discussed frameworks to support existing economic cooperation between the two countries and the means to expand them to the new economic sectors.

The Minister of Economy underlined the importance of creating more opportunities for the private sector to enable them to explore priority sectors such as tourism and aviation, given these sectors’ key role in diversifying and sustaining national economies.

The two sides also agreed on enhancing cooperation to stimulate tourism and aviation movement between them and providing all forms of support for projects and startups operating in the tourism sector.

Supporting startups in UAE and Georgia

In yet another meeting, with Mariam Kvrivishvili, Deputy Minister of Economy and Sustainability of Georgia, Al Marri discussed ways to develop economic relations between the two countries in light of the Comprehensive Economic Partnership between them. He highlighted the importance of optimising the tools the partnership provides to the private sector to enable them to explore more promising opportunities in the sectors of the future economy, tourism and travel.

In addition, the two sides agreed on the necessity to exploit the growing momentum of bilateral relations between them to boost tourism and aviation movement and to launch joint projects to increase the number of tourists.

The Georgian minister underlined the importance of strengthening cooperation with the UAE, noting that the CEPA between the two countries represents a milestone that will create many unprecedented growth opportunities in trade and investment.

Mariam Kvrivishvili said, “We look forward to strengthening our partnership with the UAE through the tourism sector by increasing the number of direct flights, enhancing tourism exchanges, exploring new investment opportunities, and providing support to SMEs operating in this space.”

UAE hotel occupancy rates at 75 percent in the first seven months of 2023

Tourism sector is a key contributor to the UAE’s national economic growth and therefore, its development is a priority for the country’s government. Over the past years, the UAE has successfully highlighted its tourism diversity and the unique features and characteristics of all seven emirates to attract more global players to the country’s markets and encourage national investments in tourism projects.

This contributes to consolidating the UAE’s distinguished position on the global and regional travel and tourism landscapes, and to increasing the sector’s contribution to the national GDP. For example, the total revenues of hotel establishments in the country amounted to AED26 billion during the period from January to July 2023, achieving a growth of 24 percent compared to the same period in 2022.

The number of guests in the UAE’s hotel establishments totaled 16 million during the first seven months of 2023, making up a total of 56 million hotel nights and recording a 15 per cent growth compared to the same period in 2022.

The total number of hotel establishments in the country reached 1,224 by the end of last July, while the hotel occupancy rate reached 75 percent in the first seven months of this year, up five percent.

UAE and UNWTO: A strategic partnership

Bin Touq’s meeting with Zurab Pololikashvili, Secretary-General of UNWTO, explored the means to enhance cooperation between the UAE and the Organisation to support and further develop the country’s tourism sector and promote its sustainable growth.

During the meeting, Bin Touq highlighted the importance of the strategic partnership between the UAE and UNWTO, as reflected by an array of joint innovative initiatives such as the “Innovation and Digitisation in Tourism” forum hosted by the UAE in 2022. It discussed future trends to enhance the sector’s contribution to the growth of regional and global economies, in addition to discussing the Tourism Satellite Account project, which aims to strengthen the statistical system of the UAE tourism sector through training and qualifying nationals to work in this sector.

He indicated the necessity to further develop this partnership to build a sustainable tourism sector with many promising opportunities and bolster the UAE’s efforts to achieve comprehensive and sustainable development goals in line with the “We the UAE 2031” vision.

The two sides agreed to continue cooperation by launching innovative initiatives that contribute to supporting the UAE’s leadership in the tourism sector and equipping professionals in this sector with the latest expertise in accordance with international best practices.

The meetings saw Bin Touq, who also heads the Emirates Tourism Council, elaborate on the objectives of the UAE’s National Tourism Strategy 2031, which aims to raise the country’s position as the best tourism identity in the world and consolidate its position as a leading tourism destination. It also aims to increase the tourism sector’s contribution to the UAE economy’s GDP to AED450 billion by 2031, in addition to attracting AED100 million tourism investments and 40 million hotel guests to the country.

He also highlighted the significance of attending the 10th Sharjah International Travel and Tourism Forum 2023, scheduled to be held in November, to explore the opportunities and advantages offered by the UAE’s tourism sector at length.