Growing tourism to be a key topic of G20 Riyadh summit

SCTH Chairman Ahmad Al-Khateeb chairs the World Tourism Organization’s (UNWTO) ministerial summit at the World Travel Market event in London. (SPA)
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Updated 01 January 2020

Growing tourism to be a key topic of G20 Riyadh summit

  • Saudi Arabia to attract annual 100m visitors, says SCTH chief

RIYADH: Tourism will be one of the key topics for discussion when Saudi Arabia hosts next year’s G20 summit in Riyadh, the Kingdom’s sector chief has revealed.

The country aims to attract 100 million visitors a year while creating 1 million new jobs by 2030, ministers at a world tourism conference heard.

Ahmad Al-Khateeb, chairman of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH), told a gathering of top travel officials in London that the global tourism sector had grown by 3.9 percent last year, with a staggering 319 million people working in the industry.

Chairing the World Tourism Organization’s (UNWTO) ministerial summit at the World Travel Market event being staged in the British capital, Al-Khateeb said the 2020 G20 gathering would focus on ways to sustain world growth in the sector.

NUMBER 319 MILLION

The global tourism sector had grown by 3.9 percent last year, with a staggering 319 million people working in the industry.

“We have ambitious targets and promising plans to invest in the tourism industry and we seek to reach 100 million visits per year to the Kingdom, and generate 1 million new jobs by 2030,” he said.

Al-Khateeb explained the methodology adopted by the Kingdom to develop tourism in a way that ensured the sustainability and protection of communities and rural areas.

He said most countries were aware of the magnitude of the environmental impact of tourism on their urban cities, and this had led them to look for alternative destinations.

The SCTH chief pointed out that more than 80 percent of the Kingdom’s population (34 million people) lived in urban areas and as a result the country was working on protecting and developing rural communities, socially and economically, by supporting a number of technical and creative solutions.

Al-Khateeb added that rural areas of Saudi Arabia were rich with tourist attractions and that the Kingdom boasted 10,000 historical and archaeological sites, many on the UNESCO World Heritage list such as AlUla and Al-Ahsa.


World leaders call for courage as virus death toll nears 70,000

Updated 06 April 2020

World leaders call for courage as virus death toll nears 70,000

  • Be strong, Pope Francis says
  • US faces ‘Pearl Harbor moment’

JEDDAH: World leaders urged people on Sunday to show courage and strength in fighting the coronavirus pandemic as the global death toll approached 70,000 from more than 1.25 million cases of infection.

Pope Francis described the outbreak as a tragedy, Queen Elizabeth of the UK offered her personal thanks to frontline health workers, and Americans were warned that they faced the “hardest and the saddest week” of their lives.

Saudi Arabia reported five more deaths from the virus, bringing the total to 34. The number of confirmed cases rose by 206 to 2,385, the highest among Gulf Arab states.

The Foreign Ministry will register requests this week from Saudis abroad who want to return home, with priority given to the elderly, pregnant women and people in countries most affected by the pandemic. Those who return are subject to a 14-day quarantine, and about 11,000 hotel rooms have been set aside for them.

The Health Ministry warned that too many people were ignoring advice to stay at home. “Unfortunately, there is still more than 40 percent mobility in shopping and outdoor activities. This is a very alarming percentage,”ministry spokesman Dr. Mohammed Al-Abd Al-Aly said.

“We are all in this boat together, and those who risk their own lives by going out for no urgent need are risking everybody else’s lives too.”

The six Gulf states have reported 6,757 cases of infection and 54 deaths from the coronavirus. The UAE, where 1,505 people have been infected and 10 have died, will increase its stockpile of strategic goods and waive residency visa fines for the rest of the year, said the prime minister, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum.

In Rome, on Palm Sunday, a Christian religious festival, Pope Francis celebrated mass by live stream with St.Peter’s Square empty of the usual huge crowds.

“Today, in the tragedy of a pandemic, in the face of the many false securities that have now crumbled, in the face of so many hopes betrayed, in the sense of abandonment that weighs upon our hearts, Jesus says to each one of us: ‘Courage, open your heart to my love’,” he said.

Queen Elizabeth gave a rare special address to the British people, only the fourth in her 68-year reign. She praised frontline health workers and more than 750,000 people who volunteered to help the state-run National Health Service.

“I hope in the years to come everyone will be able to take pride in how they responded to this challenge, and those who come after us will say that the Britons of this generation were as strong as any,” she said.

In the US, as the death toll approached 10,000, US Surgeon General Jerome Adams said: “This is going to be the hardest and the saddest week of most Americans’ lives … our Pearl Harbor moment, our 9/11 moment.”