UAE to join UN tourism agency

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Desert safari is an extremely popular tourist attraction in the UAE. Photo - Lucas Brasil

The UAE is all set to become full member of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) by the end of this year, a top tourism official said.

The UAE, despite being a mass tourism destination, it is the only country in the region that was yet to become a member of the UN tourism agency.

“The government has been talking to us about becoming full member following the establishment of National Council for Tourism and Antiquities,” said Taleb Rifai UNWT secretary general.

Earlier in 2009, UAE did not have federal tourism regulatory body that can represent the country at international tourism events.

During the same year, the government set up a National Council for Tourism and Antiquities (NCTA) which is responsible for representing the country at global tourism events and regulating among tourism departments in emirate region to create popular regulatory environment in the Industry.

Meanwhile, the federal cabinet has also designated NCTA as national representative for tourism affairs and following all the paperwork that is required for full membership.

“We welcome the UAE cabinet’s decision designating the NCTA to be the official national representative for tourism of affairs of the UAE, which will help us to induct the country as full member of the UNWTO, following necessary paperwork,” said Rifai.

“We have almost concluded an agreement, and I have received news that the cabinet has held discussions, and it is – in principle – approved. We are awaiting official notification and would be delighted to welcome the UAE as a member.”

Similar to the UAE, the USA is yet to become the full member of UNWTO for same reason, as the country doesn’t have federal tourism regulatory body.

Future Tourism Plans

Rifai said there is lot more to be done to boost the tourism industry of the country. One such is visa-free travelling within the region. The single visa scheme would be allowed to increase the tourism traffic.

“In the long term, the Gulf countries will eventually develop a single visa scheme for international visitors that’s the worldwide trend. This will obviously help greater mobility across the region and increase tourist traffic flow,” said Rifai.

According to a study conducted by Oxford Economics, aviation and tourism have been the centre of economic transformation in the UAE. Aviation in the Middle East supports 2.7 million jobs alone and contributes $129 billion to the GDP.

There has been forecast of increase in international passengers traffic in the region from 77.1 million in 2010 to 220 million by 2030.

Earlier in April, Dubai Tourism also announced the opening of a tourism office in South America, hoping that the fast growing Latin economies such as Brazil and Argentina would ultimately supply visitors to the emirate.

A recent study released by the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry revealed that the UAE has shown strong growth in tourism sector and helped promote the region as world’s hottest destination.

Sources: Gulf News, AME info

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