The Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA), led by Chairman Mr. Ahmed Al Nuaimi participated in the 19th General Assembly of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNTWO) in Gyeongui, the Republic of Korea this week.
The high level delegation participated in deliberations of the UNTWO and the organization’s Committee on the Middle East, where issues and challenges facing the tourism industry were discussed.
More than 600 delegates from the UNWTO’s member states and affiliates attended the meeting, which was told that globally the number of tourists travelling each year internationally would hit 1.8 billion by 2030.
The meeting saw the release of the UNWTO’s White Paper on the future of the world tourism industry. Mr. Al Nuami said the Middle East and Qatar received special acknowledgement for the role they had played and the progress made in attracting tourism to the region.
He explained that his preliminary results on the performance of the Middle East and North Africa in 2011 showed international recognition of the role of the played by Qatar and the Gulf States in reviving the global tourism industry.
The report singled out Qatar and Oman as “driving” tourism growth in the region.
“The report said it expected the success of Qatar’s hosting of the World Cup in 2022 would lead to a boom in the travel industry and an unprecedented number of tourists and travelers to the Middle East, particularly Qatar and our Gulf states neighbors,” Mr. Al Nuami said.
“This confirms international recognition of the efforts of Qatar through the hosting of large scale events by the country's tourism industry and we are on track to achieve further success.”
The UNWTO report predicts international tourist arrivals to Qatar to increase between four and five percent in the coming 12 months, slightly above the international average of four percent.
“Qatar’s tourism arrival numbers have achieved growth rates according to our projections and in spite of tourism numbers to the Middle East falling by 11 percent.”
The UN agency indicates that international tourism will continue to grow within 2010-2030 periods but at a more moderate pace than the past decades, with international tourist arrivals increasing by an average 3.3% a year. As a result, an average 43 million additional international tourists will join the tourism marketplace every year, it noted.
International arrivals in emerging economy destinations are expected to continue growing at double the pace (up 4.4 percent year) of advanced ones (up 2.2 percent a year). In absolute terms, the emerging economies of Asia, Latin America, Central and Eastern Europe, Eastern Mediterranean Europe, the Middle East and Africa will gain an average 30 million arrivals a year, compared to 14 million in the traditional destinations of the advanced economies of North America, Europe and Asia and the Pacific.
“This report by the UNWTO can guide us in implementing promotions and strategies to attract tourists,” Mr. Al Nuaimi said.
The report also cautioned that growth may be stymied by volatile economic conditions internationally. Despite growth forecasts by the International Monetary Fund of 4.3 percent for the year 2011, the global economy shows increasing signs of instability affecting the emerging economies and developed economies.
Mr. Al Nuaimi said the UNWTO had hit out at European countries that had imposed high taxes on travelers and the tourism industry, which the Chairman said was a “serious challenge” that must be faced to increase growth.
The General Assembly also welcomed Liberia as a new Full Member and 69 public and private sector as new Affiliate Members, bringing UNWTO membership to 155 Members States and over 400 Affiliate Members.
The Executive Council elected Kenya as its new Chairman and Qatar as Vice Chairman of the Middle East Committee.
Zambia and Zimbabwe won the bid to jointly host the 20th session of the UNWTO General Assembly in 2013.