Arab Tourism Day to focus on sustainable development

MUSCAT, FEB 24 – The Sultanate will participate in the celebrations of the Arab Tourism Day along with other Arab countries on Monday. This year the theme of the celebrations is ‘Tourism and Sustainable Development’. This is to promote sustainable development of tourism, promotion of inter-Arab tourism and the Arab world’s tourism sector in general. The Arab Tourism Day is marked on February 25, coinciding with the birth anniversary of renowned Arab traveller Ibn Batuta. This year’s theme highlights the importance of sustainable development of tourism and its principles applied in various destinations, its patterns, experiences and projects to preserve specific environmental, cultural, social and economic characteristics of each country for the next generations.
In a statement on this occasion, Ahmed bin Nasser al Mehrzi, Minister of Tourism, said: “The Sultanate’s celebration of Arab Tourism Day is aimed at enhancement of the efforts to achieve sustainable tourism development, encourage the movement of inter-Arab tourism, getting benefits from the natural and cultural components and develop them as well as preserve them ensuring their sustainability. This year the focus is also on the human, cultural and civilisational values in Arab society, which are a major factor for increasing Arab tourism exchange.”
The Sultanate is considered as one of the important tourist destinations which attract Gulf and Arab tourists throughout the year. The number of tourists who came to the Sultanate from the GCC countries in 2018 was 1,472,231, while the number of tourists coming from other Arab countries was 182,377, according to the National Centre for Statistics and Information (NCSI). The Dhofar governorate is one of the main tourist destinations. Here, the Khareef season and the Salalah Tourism Festival attracted 153,588 tourists from the GCC countries, as well as 22,306 tourists from other Arab countries, said the minister.
On this year’s theme and the relevant efforts made by the Sultanate to achieve its objectives, the minister of tourism said, “The efforts of the Sultanate and its farsighted government led by His Majesty Sultan Qaboos are clear and tangible. These efforts are aimed at achieving the principles and objectives of comprehensive and sustainable development in all sectors. We, in the tourism sector, learn from this highly enlightened approach of the supreme leadership for the Omani Tourism Strategy based on the sustainability model, which is aimed bringing benefits for the local communities and preserving environment and cultural heritage.”
Talking about the importance of Oman in the sustainable tourism development, Ahmed al Mehrzi said that the Sultanate was elected a member of the Tourism and Sustainability Committee of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) on the sidelines of the general assembly of the organisation which was held in Colombia in 2015. The countries of the Middle East had shown consensus on the election of Oman as the sole representative of the region on the committee due to its efforts and leading role in this context.
The Ministry of Tourism and the Ministry of Heritage and Culture of the Sultanate have hosted the 2nd UNWTO and Unesco Conference on Tourism and Culture at the end of the year 2017. The United Nations body had declared that there would be an international year for sustainable tourism for development. The Muscat declaration 2017 for tourism and culture for sustainable development was adopted.
Ahmed al Mehrzi also said: “We look forward to working with our brotherly Arab countries to enhance joint tourism efforts meant for achieving the objectives of the Arab strategy for tourism. Despite all challenges, the Sultanate and many Arab countries are trying to make tourism a stand-alone industry as an essential part of the economic diversification. Therefore, competitiveness and integration in the travel and tourism sectors are required so that we can achieve development, growth and optimal utilization of this industry, as it has positive effects on the economic, social, cultural and environmental aspects of societies and countries as well as on their ability to stimulate other sectors to achieve sustainable development goals.”