PROMOTING the regional tourism sector and exploring its potential were the focus of The Middle East Travel and Tourism Summit (METTS), which took place at the King Hussein Bin Talal Convention Centre in Jordan at the end of February.
It brought together investors, government representatives and professionals from across the industry to explore the promotion of sustainable tourism in the region.
Organisers hope to make the summit a major annual event in the region, stressing the message that profitability and responsibility must go hand in hand to secure sustainable development.
Ten discussion panels focused on the public-private sector synergy in sustainable development, privatisation in aviation, attracting foreign investment, the impact of real estate developments on tourism growth, responsible tourism, security challenges, business, sports and entertainment tourism and emerging Arab markets.
Michael Thomas, director general of the Middle East Association, whose members are responsible for 75 per cent of all trade between the UK and Arab countries, said the region’s tourism boom would continue in the years to come, a result of an internal increase in demand, average governmental spending, the number of investments and the number of inbound tourists.
The Bahrain International Circuit’s Martin Whitaker explained how the Formula One Grand Prix has put the country on the international map, and panellists from Jordan and Egypt stressed the importance of cultural preservation when developing tourism sites.
Major regional projects spotlighted included the King Abdullah Economic City, Ayla Oasis and Port Ghaleb. The regional shift towards limited service category hotels was touched upon by the Flamingo Hotel Management Company’s Dr Amine Moukarzel.
WTO deputy secretary general Dr Taleb Rifai noted that people’s reactions to security threats have changed and the adjustments are easier.
METTS was organised by The Middle East Association, the London-based Compass Rose international and Events Unlimited in Jordan.