Arab tourism challenge in spotlight


Twenty-two Arab ministers of tourism will discuss the latest issues in the region including easing of visas to encourage tourism among Arab countries at an annual conference to be held in Dubai from May 4.

The Arab Tourism Conference will receive extra attention as most European leisure travellers are still shy to fly in the aftermath of September 11.

"We would focus on inter-Arab tourism, increasing services and developing new projects for the region's population," said a ministry of information and culture spokesman.

"Easing of visas to expatriate residents and visitors would also come up for discussion. It has been a part of the ongoing discussion among the ministers for quite sometime.

"We are still in the process of finalising the agenda which should be ready in a few days. But the focus would be to encourage Arabs to travel more to neighbouring countries."

He said they were keeping a close watch on developments in Palestine, which had its effects on regional tourism.

"Whether the Palestinian issue or the demand to declare Jerusalem as a tourist zone would come up at the conference, I don't know. But it will depend on the developments in the area."

The event, which will attract about 200 delegates from Arab League members, will coincide with the ATM.