Saudi Arabia to run UN’s tourism plan in Middle East
Arab News – 17/04/2008

(MENAFN – Arab News) The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has invited Saudi Arabia to run its Capacity Building Program initiative, which will ensure effective implementation of tourism information systems across the region.

According to Antonio Massue, chief of statistics for the economic impact of tourism at UNWTO, the Kingdom will represent the Middle East in the running of this project, which has excreted a tangible progress in its tourism statistics and informational system.

Based on the initiative, the Kingdom will function as an intermediate to transit UNWTO expertise to other Middle Eastern countries. On the other hand, UNWTO will provide Officials and experts advice in the fields of tourism statistics for the tourism and leisure industries in the Kingdom.

The UNWTO representative, who is visiting Riyadh on an invitation from Secretary General of the Supreme Commission for Tourism Prince Sultan ibn Salman, said that the Capacity Building Program is running in two other countries � South Africa and Austria.

He added that a developed tourism information system is the key to prosperous tourism, because a tourist always requires data and accurate information about the intended destination.

He pointed out that the tourism has not yet been given sufficient attention by many governments in developing countries particularly in view of its enormous potential to generate economic, environmental and social benefits.

He added that the Capacity Building Program would guarantee successful implementation of sustainable tourism in the region, and strengthen human resources and institutional capacities to facilitate effective tourism.

With regard to Saudi Arabia being the first country in the Middle East to complete the Tourism Satellite Account (TSA) according to UNWTO standards, Massue said that the establishment of TSA in the Kingdom is a major achievement that will lay the basic foundation for sustainable tourism because it will provide information regarding contribution of tourism in the local economy and provide key performance indicators for the tourism sector.

Meanwhile, UNWTO reports that 2007 exceeded expectations for international tourism with arrivals reaching close to 900 million, compared to 800 million just two years ago.




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