Al Ain chosen as the capital of Gulf tourism for the year 2025
05 Oct 2023
Al Ain chosen as the capital of Gulf tourism for the year 2025
Seventh GCC tourism ministers meeting takes place in Oman
A UAE delegation led by H.E. Abdulla bin Touq Al Marri, Minister of Economy, participated in the seventh meeting of the GCC tourism ministers and undersecretaries, which was held recently, at the ‘Oman Across Ages’ museum in the Al Dakhiliyah Governorate of Oman. The meeting adopted the decision to declare the city of Al Ain in the UAE as the capital of Gulf tourism for the year 2025.
The UAE delegation that attended the meeting included H.E. Abdullah Ahmed Al Saleh, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Economy, and Abdullah Al Hammadi, Director of the Auditors Department at the Ministry.
H.E. Bin Touq said: “The Council’s decision to declare Al Ain as the capital of Gulf tourism for the year 2025 confirms the UAE’s leading position as a distinguished tourism destination and reflects the confidence that the country enjoys as a sustainable tourism destination, thanks to the directives and vision of our wise leadership. Al Ain boasts outstanding tourism features such as scenic nature, history and rich heritage, world-leading hotel facilities and integrated tourism services, in addition to its excellence in adventure tourism.”
The Minister of Economy invited other GCC members to visit the UAE and the city of Al Ain to enjoy its picturesque nature and learn about the developments and advanced tourism services offered by the UAE’s tourism sector, which stands out at the regional and global levels.
He added: “Today’s meeting serves as an important platform for enhancing the prospects for tourism cooperation in the GCC and discussing key areas of collaboration. We endorse and support the recommendations and outcomes of the meeting, which will provide more opportunities and capabilities to GCC tourism, thus boosting its competitiveness, growth, and prosperity.”
Moreover, H.E. pointed out that the GCC’s tourism sector faces a set of challenges that hinders its growth, prosperity and sustainability. These include the development of procedures for the easy movement of tourists between GCC countries and the development of smart infrastructure in the sector. In addition, recent global economic shifts that affected the sector globally also had an impact on tourism in the GCC.
H.E. Bin Touq said: “The integration and coordination of joint efforts by the GCC countries is necessary to enhance the growth prospects of our tourism sector. Key objectives include the facilitation of tourism movement between our countries and enhancing digital connectivity and digital tourism data based on international best practices followed in this regard, which will contribute to building a smart infrastructure for the sector.”
“Major international events and conferences hosted by the GCC countries over the recent years have boosted tourism movement within the GCC and attracted numerous international visitors to the region. Qatar’s hosting of the FIIFA World Cup last year is a great example, since the entire GCC benefited from this event in enhancing tourism and increasing hotel occupancy rates. The UAE also contributed to stimulating civil aviation traffic by operating flights to carry international visitors from other GCC countries to Qatar during this global event,” H.E. added.
H.E. Bin Touq explained that the UAE’s hosting of COP28 next month will have a similar impact on the growth of intra-GCC tourism.
In addition, H.E. underlined the UAE’s commitment to supporting GCC’s joint efforts to enhance integration in the tourism sector, and the implementation of joint tourism initiatives, strategies and programs.
H.E. Bin Touq added: “The UAE has made great strides in developing its tourism policy and infrastructure in accordance with international best practices. Several initiatives and strategies such as the ‘UAE Tourism Strategy’ were launched to drive the growth of the sector by pumping investments into its sub-sectors and building tourism projects across the country in line with the economic objectives of the “We the UAE 2031” vision.”
H.E. Bin Touq said: “The development of the tourism sector is a national priority for the UAE. Therefore, we look forward to intensifying joint efforts with the rest of the GCC to accelerate the completion of joint tourism projects. This is necessary to achieve the goals of the Gulf Tourism Strategy, and implement all policies and partnerships that support the growth of the GCC’s tourism sector, adding to its flexibility and sustainability.”
The Minister of Economy also reviewed several indicators that highlight the key role of the tourism sector in promoting sustainable economic growth in the GCC. According to reports issued by the World Travel and Tourism Council and the Gulf Statistical Center, the sector contributed nearly USD 171.4 billion to the GCC countries’ GDP in 2022, more than eight per cent of the total value. The tourism sector in the GCC countries provides more than 3.4 million jobs, accounting for more than 12 per cent of the Gulf labor market.
The rest of the GCC is one of the most important tourism markets for the UAE, as the number of GCC guests in its hotel establishments reached 2.7 million, equivalent to 11 per cent of the total number of hotel guests in the country. Intra-GCC tourism also plays an important role in supporting the global tourism sector, as it accounted for 6.6 million tourists in 2021, approximately 47 per cent of the total number of international tourists.
H.E. Bin Touq thanked the Sultanate of Oman for organizing the meeting and extended his congratulations for assuming the presidency of the meeting. H.E. said: “We are confident that the Sultanate of Oman will be able to make significant contributions to advancing GCC’s joint efforts during its presidency.”
This meeting forms part of Oman's presidency of the current session of the GCC. It discussed an array of tourism-related topics, including the latest developments in the implementation of the Gulf Tourism Strategy, joint efforts by the tourism and culture sectors in the GCC countries, opportunities for cooperation in entertainment, ways to support international cooperation in tourism, and participation in initiatives and programs to drive tourism growth.
The meeting was accompanied by several other activities, visits and tourism experiences for the participating delegations to enable them to learn more about the unique features of Oman tourism, its natural and cultural richness, ancient history, attractions and projects.