With Tourism Recovery for Africa, the Saudi Arabian Tourism Revolution is continuing

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Najib Balala

When the Saudi Minister of Tourism HE Ahmed Al-Khateeb, was seen in Jamaica wearing a Bob Marley hat, a Travel and Tourism revolution had just started .

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  1. World Tourism needs help and Saudi Arabia is there again playing the missing role for the United States of Tourism, in waving the Saudi flag high and prominent.
  2. Saudi Arabia is on the way to relocating UNWTO from Madrid to Riyadh to be the host of a new headquarters of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), but it is already a host for the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) regional office and a number of other global initiatives.
  3. Kenya invited delegates to the upcoming summit on African Tourism Recovery on Friday to this East African Country. Many of the delegates can’t wait to meet with the Saudi Arabian Tourism Minister Ahmed Al Khateeb, who most likely will be the most important shining star at the event.

Kenya’s Secretary of Tourism, Najib Balala, also is a global leader who has been involved in many global initiatives, including the eTurboNews-supported World Tourism Network and the African Tourism Board. Together with Jamaica’s Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, Balala was made a Tourism Hero by WTN last year.

Jamaica Tourism Minister Bartlett just arrived in Kenya and will be speaking at the summit in his capacity as a well-respected global thought leader on tourism resilience and recovery. He will be presenting his keynote address for the African Summit.

While in Kenya, the Jamaica Minister will sign an MOU with the satellite Global Tourism Resilience & Crisis Management Centre (GTRCMC) at Kenyatta University after a tour on Thursday.

Kenya’s President Kenyatta serves as the Honorary Co-chair (representing Africa) of the GTRCMC along with Jamaica’s Prime Minister Andrew Holness and Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca, former President of Malta.

The highlight of Bartlett’s visit to Kenya of course may be the continuation of investment talks with the Minister of Tourism for Saudi Arabia, Ahmed Al-Khateeb, which officially began in June when the first Jamaica-Saudi Arabia bilateral conference focused on inward investments to foster economic growth and the creation of new local jobs for his Caribbean country.

When Bartlett and Al Khateeb were seen as a revolutionary team, it was clear Saudi Arabia has changed and is continuing to change fast – with billions supporting this revolution.

A revolutionary team

At that time, Minister Al Khateeb led a high-level delegation during his recent visit to Jamaica, including in attendance, Abdurahman Bakir, Vice President for Investment Attraction and Development in the Ministry of Investment in Saudi Arabia, and Hammad Al-Balawi, General Manager for Investment Management and Oversight in the Saudi Ministry of Tourism.

Balala, Bartlett, and Al Khateeb may be a winning combination by local leaders with a global approach to bring some hope to Africa’s hurting travel and tourism industry.

Cuthbert Ncube, Chairman of the African Tourism Board, and the facilitator for Project Hope under the guidance of former UNWTO Secretary-General Dr. Taleb Rifai, said: “The African Tourism Board is standing by and is ready to assist and coordinate any initiative that may emerge out of the important upcoming discussion on African Tourism recovery. Stability is not only important to re-develop the badly-needed travel and tourism industry on our continent, but also stability and security for many of our countries.”

Saudi Arabia’s Minister Al Khateeb, who is Chairman of the powerful multi-billion US dollar Saudi Fund for Development, expressed a vision of catalyzing the expansion of Saudi Arabian business operations in the world.

A Tourism Recovery Summit was held in Riyadh, Saudia Arabia, in May of this year. It focused on the new era the tourism sector was entering and explored ways to also rebuild the African tourism sector that has been impacted negatively by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Kenya summit is expected to explore the opportunity for stronger partnerships between African countries and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and to mitigate the pandemic’s effects and boost resilience.

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