The Kingdom of Bahrain, represented by the Bahrain Tourism and Exhibitions Authority (BTEA), hosted the 109th session of the UNWTO Executive Council, the most important tourism committee in the world. This landmark event was held at the Art Rotana Hotel, Amwaj, on the 31st of October, gathering representatives from 35 countries from around the world.
During the session, members of the Executive Council discussed the Organization’s focus and vision for the global tourism industry by 2030, identifying key priorities for the development of the world tourism over the next two years.
The Executive Council discussed several topics on the agenda related to the development of the global tourism sector including the Secretary- General’s report and general programme of work, the UNWTO’s financial report for the period ended 30 June 2018, and other administrative matters.
In addition, the session reviewed the progress on the Joint Inspection Unit (JIU) and the report on the preparation of the General Assembly. The associate members also elected the Executive Vice Presidents of the Executive Board for 2019.
The UNWTO also announced that it will be focusing on five pillars in the coming period including innovation, digital transformation, investments and entrepreneurship, education and employment, safe, secure and seamless travel in addition to social, cultural and environmental sustainability.
The Kingdom of Bahrain, represented by the BTEA, was selected as member of the UNWTO Executive Council for the period 2018-2021. This selection comes as a result of the BTEA’s efforts towards developing the tourism sector on a local level, as well as the Kingdom’s capability to represent the Middle East region in terms of tourism developments.
Following the meeting, a high-level executive workshop was held on smart tourism management and data driven decisions entitled “How Big Data Solutions Can Help Public Leaders take Smart Decisions”. The workshop tackled a range of topics on innovation, technology and building the future of tourism. Other topics included digital transformation, measuring the Return on Investment (ROI) in the tourism sector, business intelligence and big data roadmap in tourism.
“Through this meeting, we aim to discuss the main challenges and opportunities of the tourism sector, share experiences and build common solutions with the objective of developing this vital sector. We also aim to enhance relations and strengthen ties with the Council Members to achieve the UNWTOs goals,” said the Minister of Industry, Commerce and Tourism, H.E. Mr. Zayed bin Rashid Al Zayani.
The Chief Executive Officer of BTEA, H.E. Shaikh Khaled bin Humood AlKhalifa, said, “We look forward to hosting the UNWTO Tourism Tech Adventures forum, which will be held on the sidelines of the Executive Council meeting, bringing together industry leaders and experts to discuss the latest trends in the tourism sector.”
The UNWTO was established in 1975 and is based in the Spanish capital of Madrid. It is concerned with countries’ political affairs in terms of tourism and produces statistics on tourism demand and supply worldwide. Its membership includes 145 countries, comprises six regions, and 350 Affiliate Members representing the private sector, educational institutions, tourism associations and local tourism authorities.