Ahmed bin Aqeel Al-Khatib, Minister of Tourism, underscored the importance that the World Tourism Organization, along with the private sector and the entire international community, are to develop concrete and decisive solutions to mitigate the effects of declining tourism revenues at the global level.
This came during a remote meeting called by the WTO with the participation of the World Health Organization (WHO) and officials of the tourism industry from different continents of the world.
The meeting discussed the implications of the crisis of the spread of the new Coronavirus (COVID-19) to the world and the economic effets.
During the meeting, a number of officials delivered speeches, including WTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili and WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
For his part, Al- Khatib pointed out the role of the Kingdom’s Presidency of the Group of 20 (G20) for this year, adding that the Kingdom seeks in cooperation with its partners to work to find ways to revitalize the economies of the world, including the tourism industry, which faces great challenges as a result of the interruption of global air traffic and the failure of travel due to the new Coronavirus outbreak.
“We are confident that if appropriate actions are taken and working closely together, we will be able to implement policies and measures that will help all of us to overcome the COVID-19 outbreak and its effects, protect human lives, and the global economy,” he said.
“We, in the Kingdom, as a tourist destination with huge potential for growth, trust the flexibility of our tourism sector in the medium and long term. But, this does not mean there is no need for more effort and immediate support for the sector. We are consulting with our major partners around the world, including both industry partners, the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) and the World Tourism Organization (WTO), in order to ensure our continuation to develop appropriate measures to support the tourism sector in the Kingdom,” Al-Khatib said.
The Minister of Tourism pointed out that the current circumstance has created a reality that has cast a shadow over the tourism industry in various parts of the world, affirming that humankind health is a priority for the Kingdom as for all civilized countries and societies.
Al-Khatib stressed that this epidemic requires a strong international response and multilateral actions to alleviate the impact on the tourism industry. He disclosed that the WTTC estimates indicate the possibility of a decrease in the number of tourists globally by up to 25% this year, which means that 50 million jobs globally are at risk.
He said that the Kingdom formed a supreme committee from various government sectors immediately after China announced at the end of 2019 the emergence of the virus, adding that “this matter helped us to protect our society from its effects and reduce infections through a series of measures. As we work in the Kingdom and the world to contain the spread of the new Corona, we must act quickly to reduce its economic impact. In this regard, the Kingdom has announced pumping SAR 50 billion to mitigate the economic effects of the current crisis.”