Tourism Current Affairs - 2020

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Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to offer tourist visas for the first time

The kingdom of Saudi Arabia will offer tourist visas for the first time as part of a push to diversify its economy away from oil. The move to open up the ultra-conservative kingdom to holidaymakers comes just two weeks after devastating attacks on Saudi Arabia’s oil infrastructure, which has roiled global energy markets.

Key Highlights

Kickstarting tourism in the kingdom is one of the centrepieces of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s Vision 2030 reform programme so as to prepare the biggest Arab economy for a post-oil era.

Country’s tourism attraction treasure includes- 5 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, a vibrant local culture and breathtaking natural beauty.

Initially, Saudi Arabia will open applications for online tourist visas to citizens of 49 countries. The kingdom will also ease its strict dress code for foreign women, thereby allowing them to go without body-shrouding abaya robe that is still mandatory public wear for Saudi women.

However, the kingdom, which forbids alcohol and has a strict social code, is seen by many as a hard sell for tourists.

Prince Mohammed is already seeking to change the way world views Saudi Arabia through a sweeping liberalisation drive that has brought new cinemas, mixed-gender concerts and sporting extravaganzas to Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia’s efforts to Build Tourism

In kingdom Visas are restricted to expat workers, their dependents and Muslim pilgrims travelling to holy sites in Mecca and Medina, however, in a bid to kickstart tourism Saudi Arabia began issuing visas to visitors for attending cultural and sporting events in 2018.

In 2017, the kingdom announced a multi-billion dollar project to turn 50 islands and other pristine sites on Red Sea into luxury resorts.

The kingdom is also developing historic sites like centuries-old Mada’in Saleh. This site is home to sandstone tombs of same civilisation which built Petra, the Jordanian city.

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September 27: World Tourism Day

The United Nations World Tourism Day is celebrated on September 27. The day aims at creating awareness on social, political, cultural and economic values among international community.

Background

The UNWTO – United Nations World Tour Organization has been celebrating World Tourism Day since 1980. The day was chosen because on this day, the UNWTO Statues were adopted.

Why is the chosen date appropriate?

UNWTO believes that the date is appropriate as it comes at the end of high tourist season in the northern hemisphere. In southern hemisphere it is the start of tourist season.

Tourism is at its peak during this season all over the world mainly because Earth is at Autumnal Equinox Position. It completes its Summer Solstice journey during this period. This makes the weather perfect for a tour in most of the regions on the earth.

How is the day celebrated?

UNWTO invites people world wide to participate in the celebrations. Usually a host country is chosen. Different competitions, tourism awards, presentations, photo competitions are organized.

THEME 2019: “Tourism and Jobs – A better future for all”

Tourism and jobs

The focus of UNWTO in 2019 is on education, skills and jobs. According to UNWTO, Tourism generates 10% of world jobs. Creating equitable employment is important to achieve social inclusion, peace and security.

According to ILO – International Labor Organization, more than 190 million are unemployed. Therefore, it is essential for every sector to create jobs. This can be achieved at faster rate by embracing new technology.

UNWTO’s take on jobs in Tourism

UNWTO believes that as tourism is labor intensive, it is a major source of employment. According to its data, one job in tourism sector creates one and a half additional jobs. This accounts to one in 10 jobs worldwide.

As accommodation and restaurants create jobs at the fastest rate among all sectors, developing tourism can aid in faster growth of the economy.

Tourism and SDG

Tourism is a major contributor of SDG – Sustainable Development Goals – 8, 12 and 14. They are as follows

  • SDG 8 – Decent work and Economic
  • SDG 12 – Responsible consumption and production
  • SDG 14 – Life below water

By 2030, the target is to devise and implement policies that promote tourism that creates jobs and promotes local culture.

Tourism at G20

The G20 leaders recently at the 2019 Summit valued tourism as a major contributor to global economic growth and sustainable development. Agreements were signed to maximize tourism among the G20 countries.

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