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Qatar Focuses on ‘Tourism Innovation’ at UNWTO General Assembly in Russia

23rd UNWTO General Assembly session

Qatar National Tourism Council (QNTC) concluded its active participation in the 23rd UNWTO General Assembly session, where it highlighted innovation and its long-standing relationship with UNWTO. 

The General Assembly took place in St Petersburg, Russia recently, with QNTC represented by its Secretary-General HE Akbar Al Baker, and Assistant Secretary General Hassan Al Ibrahim. HE Akbar Al Baker addressed the First Plenary session as keynote speaker, where he focused on the importance of the tourism sector to the economy, and on Qatar’s partnership with UNWTO. The following day, Al Ibrahim represented Qatar at a High Level Summit on Innovation and Sustainable Development in Tourism, as keynote speaker and as a Members States Panel.

Al Ibrahim spoke of Qatar’s commitment to innovation and the recognition that development of any sort, particularly if it is to be economically sustainable, must be underpinned by innovative policy that supports effective implementation and longer-term strategic goals. Al Ibrahim also praised entities like Qatar Foundation, Qatar Development Bank and Qatar Business Incubation Centre, which he said offer support to innovators across sectors.

The Assistant Secretary General further spoke of QNTC’s function to facilitate public-private sector partnerships and how they help empower the two sectors to work together in developing new tourism products and projects. He said that new laws and policies have led to a number of large-scale tourism projects being fast-tracked, with others being opened to both local and international private investors. Qatar’s policies that enable business and innovation helped it garner second place in the Middle East and North Africa in the World Economic Forum’s Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report 2019.

Al Ibrahim also referred to Qatar’s long-standing relationship with the UNWTO.

We value our partnership with UNWTO and are honoured to support their initiatives as they innovate in the tourism sector. We are committed to creativity and innovation, to solving world-scale problems, harnessing our human capital while maintaining a balanced relationship with our environment.’

To illustrate this commitment, he touched upon the IE University|UNWTO Tourism Online Academy and spoke of the first UNWTO Global Sports Tourism Start-Up Competition, supported by QNTC in collaboration with Futbol Club Barcelona (FCB) Innovation Hub – the agreements for which were signed this year, when UNWTO Secretary-General HE Zurab Pololikashvili visited Qatar in April.

Al Ibrahim also represented Qatar in the Member States Panel, along with representatives from Chile, Columbia, Hungary and Macao.  The panel allowed member states to share their experiences about projects developed in collaboration with UNWTO, and outline future objectives around innovation, investment and digital transformation in tourism.

As a United Nations agency, UNWTO is in charge of the promotion of responsible, sustainable and universally accessible tourism. UNWTO generates market knowledge, promotes competitive and sustainable tourism policies and instruments, fosters tourism education and training, and works to make tourism an effective tool for development.

For updates and more information about the 23rd UNWTO General Assembly visit unwto.org.

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