Tourism and civil aviation forming crucial alliance
DUBAI: K.T. ABDURABB | ARAB NEWS STAFF
The Arabian Peninsula has always been the crossroads for different civilizations and these days those roads are in the sky rather than on the ground, said Prince Sultan bin Salman, president of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA).
Stressing the region’s geographical importance to the tourism sector at the second annual UNWTO & Ministerial Forum at Arabian Travel Market in Dubai, he said: “The same role that Arabia has played in the past is now similarly happening with airline networks.”
He added: “The alliance between tourism and air transportation is very much a non-separable alliance, and it is a very important focus on aligning these two sectors to make places more accessible and affordable. “
He was participating in a discussion on “Tourism & Aviation: Building a Common Agenda for Growth.”
The event, which was attended by more than 25 ministers from different countries was opened by UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai and Mark Walsh, portfolio director, Reed Travel Exhibitions.
Other ministers also stressed the need to identify the links between tourism and aviation and set structures where tourism, civil aviation and airlines can work together.
Participating in the ministerial forum were the ministers of tourism of Bahamas, Chad, Egypt, Eritrea, Gambia, Lebanon, Maldives, Marshall Islands, Mauritania, Mauritius, Morocco, Niger, Oman, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Saint Lucia, Seychelles, Sudan, Tanzania, Tunisia, Tuvalu and Vanuatu, the director general of the National Council of Tourism and Antiquities of the UAE, the vice-minister of tourism of Azerbaijan, the director general of the Jordan Tourist Board and the CEO of the Mozambique Tourism Authority.
Representing the aviation industry were the vice president international and public affairs of Etihad Airways, the CEO of Dubai Airports and the senior vice president, revenue optimisation and distribution of Emirates Airlines.
Rifai highlighted that tourism and aviation need to move out of working in silos. “Tourism and aviation are siblings, and have been working together in parallel lines. We cannot see them separate from one another; with 52 percent of world travelers reaching their destination by air, their growth is intrinsically linked,” he added.
“There are visa regimes still belonging to a century that has past. Despite the fact that the UAE and Dubai are leading the way in opening up in terms of visa accessibility, the Middle East is still lagging behind as 70 percent of people still need visas to enter the region,” Rifai said
Highlighting the potential of regional cooperation, Reem Al-Hashemi, minister of state and managing director of the Higher Committee on International Expo Dubai 2020, said: “For mega events, we have to build synergies and expand the traveler experience. Expo 2020 is not just about Dubai, the region will benefit with visitors going on to explore Muscat or Petra, for example. We are promoting the region as a whole, expanding the picture, becoming more attractive and appealing — both to visitors but also to other airlines.”
Helal Saeed Al-Marri, director general, Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing of Dubai, mentioned the Middle East as a prime example of how tourism and aviation can work together, and what the rest of the world can learn from the region.
Other issues highlighted were the need to extend the principle of liberalization to more and more countries, the opportunities existing for regional cooperation in the Middle East, particularly in view of attracting long-haul markets and the importance of aligning tourism objectives with airlines’ profitability.
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Posted on May 13, 2013, in Sudan life style and tagged Arabian Peninsula, Arabian Travel Market, DUBAI, Etihad Airways, Expo 2020, Taleb Rifai, World Tourism Organization. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.