UNWTO Hails China as Major Tourism Market

UNWTO Hails China as Major Tourism MarketUNWTO Hails China as Major Tourism Market

UN World Tourism Organization Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili said Thursday that China is one of the most important tourist markets not only for the Middle East, but for the whole world. His remarks came in an exclusive interview with Xinhua on the sidelines of the 44th meeting of the UNWTO Commission for the Middle East and UNWTO Regional Conference, which wrapped up Thursday in Egypt's Sharm el-Sheikh city, with the theme of "Human Capital Development in Tourism: New Perspectives."

"I think we need more connectivity with China, more promotion in China and I'm sure Egypt will attract more Chinese tourists," Pololikashvili told Xinhua.

The UN official said there are a lot of opportunities to increase the number of Chinese tourists to Egypt and the Middle East, adding that UNWTO and the governments in the region have to identify the needs of Chinese tourists and to facilitate their visit.

"Getting more tourists is the main challenge and main goal for us," he said. Pololikashvili said that tourism is vital for Egypt and the region, adding that UNWTO is expecting a notable increase in the number of tourists in the region in the upcoming three or four years because "world economy is growing very fast."

The number of tourists who visited the Middle East region amounted to 85 million in 2017.

Egyptian tourism sector, a major source of national income and foreign currency, has witnessed recession over the past seven years. In Egypt, the number of tourists declined from 14.7 million in 2010 to about 8 million in 2017 due to political instability and relevant security challenges. Tourism in Egypt was dealt a heavy blow following the Russian airplane crash in North Sinai in October 2015, after which several countries, including Britain and Russia, suspended their flights to Egypt.

  Egypt on the Rebound

However, experts expect a boom in the business after Russia and Egypt resumed direct flights between the two countries.

"Our goal is to attract 10 million tourists this year, but together with government, we hope we could double this number soon," he said. According to official statistics, Egypt's tourism revenues jumped 123.5% year-on-year to $7.6 billion in 2017.

However, these figures remain below the benchmark in 2010 when tourists visiting Egypt brought in around $12.5 billion in revenue. The WTO chief revealed that his organization appreciates that Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi is personally committed to the tourism sector and is supporting tourism development in the country.


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