MADRID: Saudi Arabia’s successful efforts to keep its tourism sector afloat at the height of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic has helped project the country’s influential voice on the international stage, a UN regional travel chief has claimed.

Basmah Al-Mayman, the UN World Tourism Organization’s director for the Middle East, said the Saudi government’s intervention to support its domestic industry had further cemented its prominent position among global bodies.

The Kingdom has for a number of years been an active member of the UNWTO’s executive council for tourism and is vice president of its current session.

“The organization has recently opened its first regional office in the Middle East and the Kingdom hosted, for the first time, a regular session, which was the meeting of the regional committee for the Middle East, in May,” Al-Mayman added.

She pointed out that Saudi Arabia’s participation and contributions to the WTO had helped transform it into a specialized agency of the UN while encouraging the adoption of Arabic as an official language in the organization, and the Kingdom now held key positions on the executive boards of a number of high-profile international organizations.

While the COVID-19 pandemic had crippled the tourism sector in many parts of the world, Al-Mayman said: “The Kingdom intensified its efforts, along with the UNWTO, and several member states, to form the International Committee for Tourism Crises, the Kingdom’s membership of which is represented by its Ministry of Tourism which has also hosted the committee’s work during the current year.” She noted that Saudi Arabia’s success in opening up domestic tourism during the summer of 2020 while maintaining virus health and safety precautions had been used as an example for other countries to follow.

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© Saudi Press Agency 2021