FII: Saudi Arabia and Spain pledge to work together to boost tourism sector

Tourism ministers from two countries emphasise on building a more ‘resilient, sustainable and inclusive’ tourism sector

Saudi Arabia and Spain in partnership with the UN will work to revitalise the tourism sector that was badly hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

The two countries will cooperate in a number of areas and help the tourism sector “become one of the pillars of global economic recovery,” tourism ministers from Saudi Arabia and Spain said in a joint statement on Wednesday.

“The tourism sector needs strong leadership and coordination to bring governments and private sector partners together to work more collaboratively,” Saudi Arabia’s tourism minister Ahmed Al Khateeb and Spain’s minister of industry, trade and tourism Maria Reyes Maroto, said following their meeting on the sidelines of the Future Investment Initiative.

“We need to build a more resilient, sustainable, and inclusive tourism sector that provides prosperity for the long term.”

The travel and tourism sector was one of the worst-hit by the coronavirus pandemic as movement restrictions imposed to curb its spread brought travel to a halt. More than 62 million tourism jobs were lost last year, according to the World Travel & Tourism Council.

Travel is slowly restarting this year as a global vaccine rollout gains pace and governments begin establishing travel corridors as infections ebb.

Saudi Arabia, the world's biggest oil exporter, is among the many countries that are opening their borders to tourists.

As part of the partnership, Saudi Arabia and Spain agreed to deepen their cooperation on three key issues to revive the tourism sector. These include promoting sustainability as well as boosting collaboration in the digital sphere and training people in the tourism sector to strengthen their capabilities.

“Tourism is a vital global sector. And today’s agreement will ensure that two of the sector’s leaders will work even more closely together for the benefit of all those who depend on it,” the statement said.

Saudi Arabia is developing a slew of mega-projects that include the $500 billion futuristic Neom city, the Red Sea Development Project containing islands off the city's western coast and the Qiddiya mega entertainment and sports project in the capital Riyadh.

The kingdom also pledged a $100 million grant to the World Bank for a tourism initiative earlier this year.

Spain, a top tourist destination has been at the forefront of international efforts to restore mobility. It was one of the first countries to introduce the EU Digital Covid certificate to help EU citizens and residents travel freely within the European Union.

Spain received 83.7 million international visitors in 2019 and is a founding member of the UN World Tourism Organisation.

Updated: October 28th 2021, 10:05 AM