Global action vital to save world’s tourism industry: Saudi minister

 Joint international action to support the world’s crippled travel industry through the coronavirus pandemic was now a global priority, Saudi Arabia’s tourism minister said on Friday.

Ahmed Al-Khatib was speaking after taking part in a remote meeting called by the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) with the participation of the World Health Organization (WHO) and tourism chiefs from around the globe.

The Saudi minister pointed out the importance of the UNWTO, private sector, and international community working together to develop concrete and decisive solutions aimed at minimizing the financial impact of the deadly virus outbreak on declining tourism revenues.

Meeting delegates discussed the social and economic implications of the health crisis on the world.

Al-Khatib said: “We are confident that if appropriate actions are taken and working closely together, we will be able to implement policies and measures that will help all of us to overcome the COVID-19 outbreak and its effects, protect human lives, and the global economy.

“We, in the Kingdom, as a tourist destination with huge potential for growth, trust the flexibility of our tourism sector in the medium and long term. But this does not mean there is no need for more effort and immediate support for the sector.

“We are consulting with our major partners around the world, including both industry partners, the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) and the (UN) World Tourism Organization, in order to ensure our continuation to develop appropriate measures to support the tourism sector in the Kingdom,” he added.

The minister noted that the WTTC had estimated a 25 percent slump in the global number of tourists this year, putting up to 50 million jobs at risk.

He called for a strong international response and multilateral actions to alleviate the impact of the pandemic on the tourism industry.