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null Innovation & Digitization in Tourism’ Forum discusses ways to achieve sustainable growth in the Middle East tourism sector through technology & digital solutions

26 Mar 2022

Innovation & Digitization in Tourism’ Forum discusses ways to achieve sustainable growth in the Middle East tourism sector through technology & digital solutions


H.E. Al Falasi: UAE has set an outstanding example in the development of tourism through sustainable strategies and strengthening the role of innovation and modern technologies in the development of tourism services and products.



The ‘Innovation and Digitization in Tourism’ Forum, organized by the Ministry of Economy in collaboration with the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), discussed ways to develop the Middle East’s tourism sector. The session explored frameworks for cooperation, sharing knowledge, and foreseeing future trends to enhance tourism sector’s contribution to the regional and global economic growth through new and innovative solutions and initiatives. The Forum was held at the Museum of the Future in Dubai in the presence of a number of officials, experts, decision makers, and representatives of the private sector in the field of tourism.

In his speech at the Forum, H.E. Dr. Ahmed Belhoul Al Falasi, Minister of State for Entrepreneurship and SMEs, Chairman of the Emirates Tourism Council, underlined that the UAE’s approach to developing the tourism sector and enhancing its resilience to challenges, is a new and remarkable model in building tourism strategies. Its sustainable development impact stems from the importance of tourism in the wise leadership’s vision and the goals of the 50, given its role as a key and sustainable source of economy based on the development of innovative initiatives to upgrade tourism services and products by enhancing the role of technology and digital solutions in the sector.

H.E. said: “The global tourism sector is witnessing increased growth rates today as the recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic gains momentum internationally. This inspires us to pursue ambitious tourism development goals for the next phase and this is what we aim to achieve today through this forum. The sharing of insights and ideas here will help us define new perceptions of this vital sector through approaches based on modern technology trends and the digital economy, especially since tourism is now one of the most important economic sectors for various global economies.” He noted that in 2020, the tourism and travel sector contributed USD 4.7 trillion to global GDP and provided 272 million jobs worldwide.

H.E. outlined the most prominent efforts undertaken by the UAE in the past phase as part of its national strategy for tourism development. The country developed deliberate initiatives to promote tourism entrepreneurship and attract innovative tourism projects based on technology and promising ideas, in addition to creating an attractive environment for talent and developing skills and competencies in the sector. The UAE also succeeded in stimulating investment flows to its tourism sector, thereby becoming a leading example in driving rapid growth of the tourism sector at the regional and global levels, and in restoring its positive performance after the Covid-19 pandemic.

H.E. Al Falasi underlined the UAE’s desire to support international partnerships and efforts to build a more advanced and sustainable tourism sector by stimulating innovation and digital transformation in the sector and investing in the integration of artificial intelligence and 4IR tools in tourism services. H.E. pointed out that the Middle East has all the components needed to keep pace with the accelerating pace of digitization in tourism and the growth of tourism innovations, which adds significant value to the region's rich and diverse tourism environment and enhance its attractiveness and competitiveness as a leading global tourism destination.

Furthermore, H.E. reviewed the most evident indicators of tourism growth achieved by the UAE as a result of its increasing tourism attractiveness and its provision of an integrated system of tourism services, in which technology and digitization play a pivotal role. He noted that the total expenditure of international tourists in the UAE in 2020 reached about AED 48 billion. In 2021, the sector also experienced a significant growth in hotel revenues and tourist numbers, as well as a significant increase in the number of visitors thanks to Expo 2020 Dubai, exceeding 20 million visitors so far.  The Minister added that the UAE is striving to increase the contribution of the tourism sector to the GDP to 15% and attract up to 40 million tourists to hotel establishments in the UAE by 2030.


He said: “Innovative initiatives launched in the tourism sector have made it possible to sustain the success we achieved. Today, more than 150 startups in the UAE’s travel sector offer services through digital applications, online platforms, and innovative technical solutions. These companies boasts a broad diversity of services and capabilities that enable access to international tourism markets and attract tourists from different cultures, thus contributing to a sustainable success in the sector, turning the country into a favorable tourism capital at the regional and global levels.”

Mr Zurab Polikashvili, Secretary-General of the World Tourism Organization, said: “Digital transformation is paving the way for many valuable opportunities to emerge. It has succeeded in creating jobs and has enabled small businesses and entrepreneurs around the world to access global markets. In addition, it supports entrepreneurs in starting their businesses in the tourism sector and making use of the benefits offered by this vital sector. The Middle East has always been a major driver of the sector's growth, which is evident in the number and diversity of ideas and the depth of creativity of the talents present in this forum.”


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