Ministry of Economy discusses plans with SCTDA to boost tourism


Ministry underscores tourism’s role in advancing UAE’s long-term development plans and building future economy


 Abu Dhabi, 24 August 2020:H.E Abdulla Bin Touq Al Marri, UAE Minister of Economy; H.E Dr. Ahmad Belhoul Al Falasi, Minister of State for Entrepreneurship and SMEs; and H.E Dr. Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, Minister of State for Foreign Trade, met with H.E. Khalid Jasim Al Midfa, Chairman of Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority (SCTDA), recently to discuss areas of cooperation to support the country’s tourism sector. The meeting explored ways to revive tourism activities in order to consolidate the UAE’s position as a leading, diversified, and sustainable tourism destination at the regional and global levels.


The high-level meeting, which took place at SCTDA’s headquarters in Sharjah, saw the UAE Ministers of Economy reiterate tourism sector’s pivotal role in the country’s long-term sustainable development plans and future economic progress, reflecting the UAE vision to build a diversified, globally competitive, and knowledge- and innovation-driven economy led by UAE nationals.


Furthermore, the two sides discussed prominent tourism programs and initiatives launched in Sharjah and the UAE. During the discussion, they agreed to strengthen coordination and cooperation to implement relevant initiatives included in the flexible packages and the 33-initiative plan that were unveiled to support key economic sectors. The parties also took the opportunity to examine the latest major developments and prevailing challenges facing the tourism sector in light of the current phase.


H.E. Al Marri said: “With its developed and pioneering system, the UAE’s tourism industry performed well as evidenced by its impressive ratings and high rankings across many global indicators last year. For instance, it ranked first in the Middle East region and 33rdglobally in terms of global competitiveness. Tourism’s economic contributions last year were considerable as well. According to the 2019 report of the World Economic Forum, the sector accounted for 11.9 per cent of the UAE’s gross domestic product (GDP) and created 745,000 job opportunities.”


“We will continue to strengthen our communication and coordination with the private sector entities operating in the tourism industry to monitor and follow-up on the most important developments in the sector and address present challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. The global health crisis has affected tourism worldwide. In the UAE, we have been actively collaborating with our various partners to come up with a stronger future road map for the industry and effectively fast-track the implementation of value-added programs according to the 33-initiative plan. Given the resiliency of the UAE’s tourism industry, we are confident that the sector is well-positioned to overcome various challenges and strengthen once again its contributions to the country’s economic development,”he added.


On SCTDA’s efforts promoting Sharjah’s tourism, the Minister of Economy commended the Authority for its numerous initiatives to spur activities not only in the emirate’s sector but also in the entire UAE, as well as encourage citizens and residents to explore the many tourist attractions in the country.


H.E. Dr. Al Falasi, for his part, was upbeat that the country remains on track to reinvigorate the tourism industry by maximizing its high-growth potentials amid the effects of the pandemic over the past months and the still-challenging market conditions. The UAE’s tourism and hospitality sectors performed well in the past. As of end of 2019,1,136 hotel establishments, which include more than 183,000 rooms, now operate in the UAE. The hotels welcomed at least 27 million guests of various nationalities combined in 2019, a6 percent increase compared to2018.


“Tourism is a key priority of the 33-initiative plan. Our meeting with our SCTDA partners proves our commitment to working closely together to achieve the plan’s objectives and support the domestic tourism, which is seen to help stimulate activities within the hospitality and entertainment industries. We are also going to enhance the UAE’s tourism and its ability to attract regional and global tourists, giving special emphasis on the areas of leisure, adventure and business,” H.E. Dr. Al Falasi said.


During the meeting, H.E. Dr. Al Zeyoudi emphasized the role of the tourism sector in the UAE’s economic diversification, sustainable development and foreign trade policies. According to him, it is not only vital to raising further the UAE’s global competitiveness, but it is also considered an important part of the country’s preparations for a post-oil future. He emphasized as well that local tourism attracts substantial investments to the country, saying that by the end of the last year, the total investment value in tourism amounted to more than AED 27.5 billion.


H.E. Khalid Jasim Al Midfa, Chairman, SCTDA, explained that the visit served as an important platform in the efforts to explore further joint cooperation with the Ministry of Economy, especially in the move to promote tourism during a post-COVID-19 phase. H.E. expressed the Authority’s continuing commitment to be a key partner of the Ministry of Economy and its move to support the country’s tourism segment.


H.E. added, “We highly appreciate the efforts made by the government to limit the impact of the global pandemic on the tourism sector and their provision of the means to further accelerate the pace of recovery to help push the path of tourism development.”


“We renew our commitment to support the proactive endeavors led by the Ministry of Economy to implement initiatives related to the tourism segment, which are part of the 33 initiatives planned to support the economic sectors, especially those concerned with promoting tourism to achieve future directions in building a diversified, competitive and sustainable economy. We look forward to uniting our energies in support of domestic tourism, which is seen as the main pillar in the return of tourism activity post COVID-19. In line with further consolidating its domestic tourism’s role as a key contributor to the local economy in Sharjah, we have launched a package of specific initiatives that are aimed at consolidating the leadership of the emirate in the list of safe tourist destinations in the world, by focusing on following the best practices that guarantee the health and safety of visitors. We remain committed to improving the attractiveness and competitiveness of the tourism sector by showcasing the exceptional cultural and historical icons that Sharjah is famous for,” concluded Al Midfa.