RIYADH — Minister of Tourism Ahmed Al-Khateeb said that Saudi Arabia will create as many as 250,000 jobs during its hosting of Expo 2030 in Riyadh. He also highlighted the importance of sustainable jobs that the Kingdom will generate and these include jobs related to 1,000 hotel rooms on the sidelines of the global exhibition.

The minister made the remarks while addressing a ministerial roundtable session titled “Accelerated Progress in the Labor Market,” during the first-ever Global Labor Market Conference (GLMC), which started at the King Abdulaziz International Convention Center in Riyadh on Wednesday.

Al-Khateeb said the launch of the National Tourism Strategy in 2019 aimed to increase gross domestic product (GDP) from this vital tourism sector from three percent to 10 percent by 2030, in terms of creation of one million additional jobs.

The minister drew attention to the Kingdom’s presidency of the Executive Council of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and hosting of its upcoming General Assembly with identifying three priorities: sustainability of the planet and the environment; ensuring suitable jobs for humans, tourism growth and travel and doubling the number of services; and ensuring the importance of preserving the place in any tourist destination.

Al-Khateeb noted that the world population will reach 8.5 billion by 2030. “There is a digitization process for many services, including the labor market, especially with regard to trade and manufacturing, which were digitized decades ago and that had produced a negative impact on the labor market,” he said.

The minister said that the travel and tourism sector represents 10 percent of the global labor market, and there were 330 million jobs in 2019 in this vital sector before the outbreak of the pandemic, and that airlines and hotels were the worst affected sectors globally, with a loss of 60 million jobs. “We have returned to what was before the pandemic, according to the reports of the UN World Tourism Organization and the Travel and Tourism Council, and that is a good thing,” he said.

Al-Khateeb noted that the tourism sector globally provides 10 percent of the jobs in the labor market, saying that it is one of the important sectors for growth in the future. He also stressed the importance of retaining the human element in the tourism sector as it plays a fundamental and pivotal role in sharing cultures from various countries to which we travel.

“In the tourism and travel sector, we must monitor the jobs that are lost from other sectors, and we have also to work to raise the global skills through the training courses that we provide to the staff,” he said while pointing out that the tourism trip must be enjoyable, comfortable, and a positive experience.

“Therefore, we have to work to digitize nonessential jobs and services while maintaining some jobs that are important for the human element to occupy. This is because the stories that a tourist gets from the human element are what he will remember and share with members of his family,” he added.

Earlier, Minister of Human Resources and Social Development Ahmad Al-Rajhi inaugurated the conference. More than 6,000 delegates from over 40 countries are participating in the conference, which is a platform that aims to convene experts, specialists, and representatives of labor market stakeholders to engage in discussions about current and future international market challenges and propose innovative solutions to address them.

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