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Jeddah - Yasmine El Tohamy - JEDDAH: Saudi efforts to promote sustainable tourism are remarkable, said Anita Mendiratta, special adviser to the UN World Tourism Organization's secretary-general.
Talking to Arab News on the sidelines of the 116th Executive Council of the UN World Tourism Organization, she said: “AlUla, as an example, is remarkable, and how it’s recognizing that sustainability is not just about green and blue, it’s about cultural sustainability, social sustainability, environmental sustainability, and economic sustainability.”
“Unless cultural conservation and community are in (a) balance, you can never have a truly sustainable development environment,” Mendiratta added.
She said the development of the Kingdom’s tourism sector with sustainability at its heart can be used as a global case study.
Top officials from all over the world are gathered in Saudi Arabia for the meeting to discuss the changing trends in global tourism in a post-pandemic world.
Expressing optimism over the sector's future, Mendiratta said tourism has proven to be an industry interdependent on global health care, employment, and environment.
“There is a great deal of momentum and confidence, but very importantly we have learned through the last two years that tourism is not just an integrated and interconnected industry, it is interdependent,” she said.
“Whatever the shocks, we can always sustain shocks and come through them stronger.
“We don’t need to build back better, we need to build forward better, we need to make sure that there is no going back to normal, there is no back and there is no normal,” she added.
“Otherwise, we are not doing it in a way that mother nature is teaching us. We’ve had two years to think about this, we need to make sure we don’t waste that time,” Mendiratta stressed.
The official also highlighted the UN’s commitment to the sustainable development goals and her organization’s efforts in rebuilding a post-pandemic world through sustainable measures.
“We look, therefore, for global travel and tourism as being a key part of development of the world once again as we all re-emerge from this very challenging time,” she said.
She lauded Saudi Arabia’s efforts in promoting tourism and making it central to its Vision 2030 strategy.
“It is recognizing the impact that tourism can have at economic, social and cultural and environmental levels in so many ways through all the initiatives,” she said.
Mendiratta said the UNWTO’s clean environment goal does not have an end. It is a constant process because as the world develops and rebuilds, it must do so in a way that will never be damaged again, she added.
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