Egypt’s Minister of Tourism Rania Al-Mashat stressed on the need for increasing international funding and support for the tourism sector from global financial institutions in the 2030 Agenda.
Al-Mashat's remarks came during her participation as a speaker in a panel discussion organised by the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) at the World Trade Organization (WTO) entitled 'International Funding for the Tourism Sector for Development to Achieve the 2030 Agenda.'
The panel discussion was held as part of the Aid for Trade initiative for 2019, which is organised by the WTO in cooperation with the UNWTO from 3 to 5 July.
In her speech, according to a statement issued by tourism ministry on Wednesday, Al-Mashat said that increasing funding is needed given the importance of the tourism industry in the economies of countries.
She said that the tourism industry also contributes to the achievement of the UN goals of sustainable development, which are aimed primarily at improving societies and achieving a better life for the people of the world.
"The growth in the tourism sector has surpassed the growth rates of the global economy, where the growth rate in the tourism sector is 3.9 percent, while the growth rate of the global GDP is 3.2 percent," Al-Mashat said.
Despite this, Al-Mashat said that funding for the sector from global financial institutions is still weak, amounting to only 0.4 percent of the total value of aid flows for trade during 2017.
"Given that global discourse is now moving towards adopting protective measures and closed trade policies, the tourism sector is considered a way to overcome such policies, since individuals travelling between countries contributes to the exchange of cultures and promoting peace and understanding among peoples," Al-Mashat said.
The minister also presented the latest developments in the world tourism movement in 2018, which was valued at $8.8 trillion, representing 10 percent of the world economy and 30 percent of export services.
Tourism has also created 319 million jobs, equivalent to a tenth of the total opportunities worldwide, while the number of tourists has increased 6 percent internationally.
The panel discussion also included UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili, Executive Director of the International Trade Centre (ITC) Arancha González, Director-General of Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) Toshiyuki Nakamura, Director of Trade, Regional Integration and Investment Climate at the World Bank Caroline Freund, as well as Egypt's permanent delegate to the United Nations Office in Geneva (UNOG) Ambassador Alaa Youssef.
The UNWTO secretary-general praised the structural reform programme for developing the tourism sector launched by the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and the role Egypt plays in advancing the international agenda and enhancing international financing for the tourism sector.
Pololikashvili also thanked Al-Mashat for supporting the modern international concepts and trends applied in the tourism sector.
"Although JICA comes at the top of the institutions which finance the tourism sector, this funding represents less than 1 percent," Nakamura said.
Nakamura also highlighted the importance of increasing the value of aid allocations for trade that aim at supporting the tourism sector so as to enable the sector to play an active role in achieving the goals of sustainable development 2030.