One of the important items on the agenda was the adoption of a coordinated approach towards the implementation of unified protocols for safe and responsible travel throughout the region.
UNWTO Member States in the Middle East region have agreed to work together on grassroots initiatives to harmonize travel protocols and reinvigorate travel in the region, including the following:
- The establishment of a common framework for the reopening of international borders;
- The creation of approved sanitary corridors between destinations to promote specific tourist experiences and relaunch tourist hotspots;
- Building a common digital health solution to facilitate the experience for travelers by ensuring interoperability and leveraging blockchain technology to help develop common standards; and
- Efforts to implement the IATA-OMT Destination Tracker instrument, for the purposes of health data tracking, regulation and cross-border travel and protection of the health and well-being of 450 million inhabitants of the region.
UNWTO Secretary General Zurab Pololikashvili presented his report to the Regional Commission, in which he outlined the work done by UNWTO with all Members and Affiliate Members across the region, in particular in support of their unprecedented joint action in the face of the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This agreement opens a new chapter for regional tourism across the Middle East and will serve as a benchmark for collaboration for other regions,” said UNWTO Secretary General Zurab Pololikashvili. “Countries around the world are striving to overcome this pandemic which has taken such devastation on the global tourism industry. The more they try to get by on their own, the longer it will take to rebuild the damaged livelihoods. It is only in unity and through cross-border collaboration that we can get through this ordeal and ensure that the world once again benefits from the benefits of tourism. “
In the context of the historic opening of the new UNWTO regional office in RiyadhThere were also presentations of candidates and elections to UNWTO statutory bodies and their subsidiary bodies, illustrating the UNWTO’s commitment to conduct its work properly, even in difficult times.
Egypt was elected president of the Regional Commission for the Middle East for 2021-2023, succeeding the United Arab Emirates, whose two-year term will come to an end at the next UNWTO General Assembly in Marrakech, in October. Otherwise, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has nominated to host World Tourism Day when it returns to the Middle East region in 2023. This candidacy will be submitted to member states for ratification at the General Assembly. (With the OMT)