Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak, chairman of the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi, has said the emirate will focus on rural development in the coming year.
In remarks celebrating World Tourism Day, the industry leader said: “Tourism is one of the cornerstones of economic development.
“This is why, over the past few years, we have developed the tourism infrastructure in the emirate of Abu Dhabi, in line with the knowledge economy strategies implemented by the government.
“This includes enhancing the tourism workforce and encouraging more talent to contribute to the growth of the sector.”
He continued: “This year, World Tourism Day will be held under the theme of ‘Tourism and Rural Development’, emphasising the role tourism plays in creating social and economic unity and cohesion, especially in developing areas.
“This comes during a challenging year for the worldwide tourism sector, as the Covid-19 pandemic has undoubtedly had its impact on the industry, presenting us with a number of unprecedented challenges.
“We have had to approach these challenges with innovative solutions and strategies to revive the sector while maintaining the safety and well-being of our local community, which has always been our utmost priority.
“We also took this time to develop a number of cultural and heritage programmes, which incorporate a wealth of talent from various backgrounds and age groups.
“Additionally, we have worked on creating a number of ground-breaking virtual experiences to enable travellers to appreciate the best of Abu Dhabi, amidst a number of closures and travel restrictions imposed by the pandemic.”
While Abu Dhabi is currently closed to international tourism, the emirate has been working to keep itself in the international spotlight by hosting a series of top-level sporting events.
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Al Mubarak added: “Through this innovation and commitment, the United Arab Emirates has succeeded in setting a shining example in crisis management with its globally acclaimed Covid-19 response.
“We have worked relentlessly alongside other government entities to launch a number of initiatives to support the tourism sector during this period and elevate the level of trust amongst our consumers to position Abu Dhabi as one of the safest destinations in the world.
“And today, as we prepare to welcome visitors once again, we are doubling our efforts in ensuring the safety of our destinations to guarantee our guests a safe and unforgettable experience.”
The sentiments were echoed by Saood Al Hosani, undersecretary of the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi.
He said: “This year’s World Tourism Day coincides with a challenging period for the sector, unlike anything previously witnessed.
“The biggest challenge for us was to support and revitalise the tourism sector in the emirate of Abu Dhabi, while also ensuring the health and safety of residents and visitors.
“Abu Dhabi has been recognised and highly praised for its efficient, persistent and rapid response to managing and containing the spread of Covid-19 through a series of initiatives developed by local government and the relevant authorities, including DCT Abu Dhabi.
“The implementation of stringent measures and safety guidelines helped boost consumers’ confidence towards our destination, while simultaneously revitalising the tourism sector.”
He continued: “The success behind this revitalisation is largely due to the close collaboration between the private and public sectors, as well as the commitment showcased by DCT Abu Dhabi’s stakeholders to ensure the implementation of all precautionary guidelines issued by the government of Abu Dhabi across various establishments.
“With the reopening of tourism in the UAE, we hope to promote Abu Dhabi as the safe destination it truly is by enhancing our efforts to ensure the safety and well-being of visitors and residents.
“We are especially focused on enhancing the safety measures to protect all employees within the culture and tourism sectors, who play a key role in making our destination experience an exceptional one by creating a sustainable creative environment.
“Abu Dhabi is a diverse destination with a variety of landscapes and environments, from which a multitude of unique cultural communities have grown to create a vibrant scene.
“We are currently working to develop the destinations within these communities to reflect our rich heritage, enabling creativity to thrive and spurring significant economic growth.”