His Highness Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi, UAE Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Ras Al Khaimah, officially opened the inaugural edition of the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) Middle East & North Africa Leaders Forum 2019 today, that took place at Al Hamra International Exhibition & Conference Center in Ras Al Khaimah.
The one-day event featured a keynote speech from HH Sheikh Saud, who highlighted Tourism’s pivotal role in the sustainable development and growth of the Emirate’s economy. “We want to create an emirate that is thriving sustainably, both economically and socially, for the benefit not just of all those who live here, but for the entire UAE. In order to create sustainable development here in Ras Al Khaimah, we have been busy trying to build one of the most diverse economies in the region.
“Currently, no single sector of Ras Al Khaimah’s economy makes up more than 30% of GDP. And in terms of tourism, we’ve witnessed huge growth – tripling our visitor numbers from under 400,000 to over 1 million in just 7 years,” said Sheikh Saud.
Raki Philips, the Chief Executive Officer of Ras Al Khaimah Development Authority, who delivered the welcome address to the audience, said, “We are grateful to the World Travel & Tourism Council for the opportunity to host the first Middle East & North Africa Leaders Forum at Ras Al Khaimah. This forum is a proud moment for Ras Al Khaimah as it continues to be the fastest growing destination in the region.
“Tourism is one of the key drivers of Ras Al Khaimah’s continued growth in GDP and employment. Guided by our Destination Strategy 2019-2021, we remain focused on diversifying the Emirate’s tourism offering; attracting foreign and local investment within the tourism sector; nurturing home-grown small and medium enterprises to create further employment and business opportunities for Emiratis whilst prioritizing sustainable nature-based adventure and authentic cultural experiences.”
Gloria Guevara, President & CEO of the World Travel & Tourism Council said, “Around 200 delegates from 45 countries have participated in our first ever Middle East North Africa Forum. This region is one of enormous potential, with a wide variety of cultural, leisure and business destinations, a central location in the world and governments which not only recognize the importance of Travel & Tourism but are also taking action to support it. The United Arab Emirates is one of the leading tourism economies in the region and in 2018, Travel & Tourism in the UAE grew four times faster than the region as a whole. Ras Al Khaimah is the embodiment of this opportunity and it has been an honor to share the story and ambitions of the Emirate with our global audience.”
Held in partnership with Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority, the forum brought together government agencies, industry associations, CEOs and senior leaders of the top travel and tourism companies, experts, and media from across the region, in an effort to explore contemporary issues facing the sector and discuss growth opportunities to advance the regional agenda.
The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) is the body which represents the Travel & Tourism private sector globally. Members include over 170 CEOs, Chairs and Presidents of the world’s leading Travel & Tourism companies from all geographies covering all industries. WTTC works to promote Travel & Tourism as one of the world’s largest economic sectors, supporting one in 10 jobs (319 million) worldwide and generating 10.4% (US$8.8 trillion) of world GDP in 2018.