UN Tourism Puts Spotlight on Investments and Empowerment at AIM Congress

UN Tourism Puts Spotlight on Investments and Empowerment at AIM Congress

UN Tourism returned the Annual Investment Congress (AIM) to put the focus on innovation and women’s empowerment, and investments in the Middle East.

The tourism landscape of the Middle East is undergoing a significant transformation, driven by strong government support through economic diversification efforts. Tourism has emerged as a strategic sector offering opportunities for job creation, revenue generation, and sustainable growth. In 2023, the Middle East was leading the sector’s global recovery, being the only region to surpass pre-pandemic levels with arrivals reaching 87.1 million international tourists, 22% above 2019 levels.  

The region is also performing well on investments: 254 greenfield projects were announced between 2018 to 2023, representing a total capital investment of USD 15.2 billion, and supporting the creation of an estimated 33,690 jobs. 

The Middle East is also establishing itself as a global leader in tourism investments, and UN Tourism returned to the AIM Congress to focus on some of the key issues relating to this key priority for the sector: equality and innovation.  

"The Middle East is blooming as a destination and as a major player in the global tourism sector. It was the only region where international arrivals last year were actually above pre-pandemic levels, and it's leading the way in greenfield investment projects and in creating jobs. UN Tourism is delighted to be working with the region around our shared priorities", says UN Tourism Executive Director, Natalia Bayona. 

Fostering Innovation, Empowering Women Entrepreneurs  

On the opening day of the Congress, UN Tourism held a special session centered around two pivotal themes: "Investing in Innovation" and "Enabling Women Entrepreneurs”. Experts provided insights into empowering women entrepreneurs in the tourism sector and investing in the next generation of women in technology to drive sustainable tourism growth.  

As part of its commitment to gender equality and empowerment, UN Tourism also launched the second edition of its Women in Tech Startups competition for the region, aiming to recognize and support innovative tech-driven startups led by women entrepreneurs working in three categories: People and Skills, Green Travel Solutions and Market Innovators. 

Tourism Investments in the Middle East chapter 

On the second day, the AIM Congress served as a platform for UN Tourism to engage global stakeholders in a discussion surrounding tourism investments in the Middle East. UN Tourism highlighted the importance of tourism trends and sustainable investment practices, discussing policies that support such initiatives and exploring tourism growth in navigating investment horizons.  

The session aimed at to provide insights into the evolving tourism landscape of the Middle East, showcasing traditional and non-traditional investment opportunities and emphasizing the region’s growing influence on global tourism investments. As the global tourism landscape evolves, the region plays a pivotal role in shaping the future of the sector through its vision, investment initiatives, and strategic partnerships. Participants called for the need of collaborative efforts between governments, private investors, civil society, and local communities to shape a tourism sector that is not only economically successful but also environmentally responsible and socially inclusive.  

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