Four hundred international professionals and tourism experts gathered for The Tourism Innovation and Transformation Forum 2016 under the patronage of H.E Sultan bin Saeed Al Mansoori, Minister of Economy, the UAE Ministry of Economy in cooperation with the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) to exchanged views on the benefits of innovation to accelerate tourism growth and overcome business challenges.
The forum included four distinctive interactive workshops on the shift in the tourism sector, the transformation of various global destinations, the transition to smart cities, and the innovative visitors’ experiences. The workshops were led by industry specialists and support the sector’s various facets by promoting discussions and dialogues on the importance of innovation.
During the main sessions, the topics covered included the role of innovation in building a sustainable tourism sector and the development of strategies to highlight the industry’s new segments. The sessions also highlighted the latest smartphone applications, smart tourism services, and the implementation of best practices to promote innovation.
H.E. Al Mansoori said: “This forum was held in line with the government’s outstanding initiatives and events launched during UAE Innovation Week. This reflects the government’s commitment to make innovation a way of life in the country and incorporate it in various local sectors for performance improvement. This is part of our endeavors to achieve progress and development, improve people’s lives, and establish the UAE’s leadership in all areas and fields. Tourism is a fundamental pillar of economic diversification and development process as the state prepares for a post-oil era. The Ministry of Economy is optimizing innovation to boost this vital sector, highlight its potential, and attract investment to increase its contributions to the country’s economy.”
For his part, H.E. Mohammed Khamis Al Mheiri, Undersecretary at the Ministry of Economy, said: “The Ministry-led initiatives and projects that support the tourism sector reflect its commitment to UAE Vision 2021. Innovation is the central theme of these initiatives as it becomes an important part of the sector’s development. This important annual forum will provide a platform where industry leaders can develop a roadmap, explore future challenges, and create innovative and creative solutions to pressing issues.”
H.E. added that the travel and tourism sector’s contribution to the UAE’s gross domestic product (GDP) stood at AED 134 billion in 2015, accounting for 8.7 per cent. It grew by 4.4 per cent this 2016 per the World Travel and Tourism Council’s data. The sector’s contribution is expected to increase at a rate of 5.4 per cent annually over the next 10 years to reach AED 236.8 billion by the year 2026 and will account for 11.2 per cent of the total GDP. The tourism and travel sector is also expected to generate more than 370 million jobs by 2026.
H.E. Al Mheiri added: “This strong and rapid growth requires global tourist destinations to provide suitable environments that lead to business development. It also requires effective coordination between government institutions and the private sector all over the world. Innovation will help tourism officials and other stakeholders to develop strategies that will attract more tourists and elevate tourism experience in their respective areas. Additionally, we also discussed the best global practices to achieve this goal.”