Oman Chairs 7th Meeting of GCC Ministers of Tourism
Manah, 5 Oct (ONA)-- The Sultanate of Oman, represented by the Ministry of Heritage and Tourism, today chaired the seventh meeting of GCC ministers of tourism. The meeting was at “Oman Across the Ages Museum” in the Wilayat of Manah, Governorate of A’Dakhiliyah.
Salim Mohammed Al Mahrouqi, Minister of Heritage and Tourism, delivered a speech in which he said that the meeting aims at enhancing cooperation, integration and empowerment for the tourism development march. Towards this objectives, the ministers espoused activate initiatives and programmes to accord GCC the status they deserve, generate the desired benefits for GCC national economies and realize the GCC people’s aspirations for progress and prosperity.
The GCC tourism strategy’s initiatives are capable of enabling the countries to be transformed into a tourism bloc par excellence, affirmed the minister.
For his part, GCC Secretary General Jassim Mohammed Al Budaiwi said that the tourism sector emerges as one of the most promising economic and social sectors that are in a position to realize economic diversification and sustainable development.
He added that, so far GCC states registered more than 17 landmarks on UNESCO’s list of world heritage sites.
The total number of GCC inbound visitors stood at 39.8 million in 2022, constituting a surge of 136.6 percent over 2021 figures.
Meanwhile, the spending of tourists who visited the GCC states increased to $85.9 billion, up by 101.2 percent over 2021 figures.
Statistics also show that intra-GCC tourism, as a ratio of overall international tourists, constituted 29.7 percent, with a growth rate of 98.8 percent in 2022, compared to 2021.
He pointed out that the GCC Tourism Strategy envisages the realization of a unified vision to increase the number of inbound visits at a rate of 7 percent annually until 2030. The strategy also seeks to augment the spending of GCC inbound tourists by 8 percent and the spending of domestic tourists by 2.4 percent until 2030, besides raising direct gross domestic product (GDP) by an annual rate of 7 percent until 2030.
On his turn, Ahmed Aqeel Al-Khatib, Saudi Minister of Tourism, said that the ministers discussed the establishment of a centre for unified Gulf statistics and a unified tourist visa scheme.
He added that GCC states are undergoing rapid growth and that, with joint action and ongoing coordination, the GCC countries would attract a good portion of the global travel market.
The meeting also looked into the establishment of a GCC Tourism Statistics Platform.
At the conclusion of the meeting, the ministers endorsed the Gulf Strategy for Tourism 2023-2030 and agreed on a plan whereby member states would provide the GCC Secretariat General with views and observations on the envisaged “unified GCC visa project” before the end of December 2023.
It was also recommended that the GCC panel concerned (should) follow up the implementation of initiatives of the Gulf Tourism Strategy 2023-2030, submit progress reports and performance indicators to the upcoming meeting of GCC tourism ministers.
The ministers also recommended that member states provide the General Secretariat with their visions and proposals on an initiative named “Our Gulf, the Birthplace of Civilizations”. Proposals about initiative, presented by the GCC Secretariat General, were expected to be finalized before the end of December 2023. Ends/Bishara/AH