Tourism ‘too big to fail’ warns Saudi minister as she calls for governments to step up

We need to work cross-sectoral with different industries in order to have a proper recovery, but also with the private sector: minister

  
Saudi people walk near the former execution site, which has been turned into a cultural showcase, titled "Riyadh's Pulse", in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia December 7, 2019.

Saudi people walk near the former execution site, which has been turned into a cultural showcase, titled "Riyadh's Pulse", in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia December 7, 2019.

REUTERS/Ahmed Yosri
RIYADH: The tourism industry is “too big to fail”, according to a Saudi minister as she invoked the 2008 banking collapse to describe the challenges facing the sector.

Speaking at the Future Investment Initiative Forum, Princess Haifa Al Saud called for enhanced cooperation between the public and private sectors with a focus on “redesigning the future of tourism”.

The Covid-19 pandemic devastated the travel industry as countries around the world imposed lockdown measures.

The assistant minister for Executive Affairs & Strategy in Saudi's tourism department said some 60 million jobs have been lost in tourism as a result of the measures used to tackle Covid-19.

Addressing delegates in Riyadh, she said: “We need to work cross-sectoral with different industries in order to have a proper recovery, but also with the private sector.

“We need to enhance this collaboration, to sit down on a table together, listen and understand what the issues are, agree on what the issues are and set a way forward.

“During the financial crisis back in 2008 we said banking is too big to fail. Today I'm telling the world tourism is way too big to fail.”

She went on to argue that governments must take responsibility for ensuring the sector gets back on its feet, saying they must “not just point the finger and say in ‘this is needed’ and watch them go and do, but to actually take that journey with them”.

Her concerns over the industry’s future were echoed by Spain’s tourism minister Reyes Maroto, who said that his country “will use health passports and other tools to facilitate continual movement to achieve sustainability”.

“We cannot work separately from the private sector, they will take the initiative to move forward in the future,” he added.

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