United Arab Emirates Ministry of Economy to discuss enhanced bilateral tourism development with Greek delegates

The UAE Ministry of Economy has today received delegates from Greece at its Dubai offices to discuss strengthened ties between the UAE and Greece in the field of tourism, especially as both countries are ranked among the top 20 tourist destinations in the world.

UAE Minister of Economy H.E. Engr. Sultan Bin Saeed Al Mansouri received the Greek group to talk about tourism investments and the exchange of technical expertise.

The delegates from Greece included H.E. Aris Spiliotopoulos, Greek Minister of Tourism; H.E. Georges Costoulas, Ambassador of Greece to the UAE; Mr. Iraklis Valvis, Secretary General of the National Greek Tourism Authority; and Mr. Georgios Kasfikis, International Public Relations Specialist, Greek Ministry of Tourism.

The UAE group was headed by H.E. Eng. Sultan Bin Saeed Al Mansouri and included, among others, H.E. Mohammed Ahmed Bin Abdulaziz Alshihhi, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Economy; H.E. Humaid Ali Bin Butti Al Muhairi, Assistant Undersecretary for Companies & Control Affairs; and H.E. Abdullah Salem Al-Turifi, CEO of UAE Securities & Commodities Authority.

“Greece established diplomatic relations with the UAE in 1971; it has thus been a partner of long standing, not only politically but commercially as well.

We hope that we can boost our bilateral cooperation particularly in the development of our respective tourism sectors, which have become major growth areas for both our countries. This meeting is a significant step in leveraging our strengths as international travel destinations,”

said H.E. Engr. Al Mansouri.

The UAE was recently ranked the top Arab destination and one of the top 20 out of 124 countries in the World Economic Forum’s first annual Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index. Over 100 individual projects worth around Dhs257bn in hotels and related tourism and leisure facilities are currently either underway or have been committed in the country.

Greece, on the other hand, is one of the world’s top 15 destinations; its tourism sector represents 18% of the country’s GDP and will grow further based on the expected 20 million annual foreign visitors to Greece by 2010.

The close proximity of these two countries offers various opportunities in the collaborative development of their burgeoning tourist trades.

Also discussed during the meeting was more intensified promotion of Dubai as a premier tourist destination. Travel and tourism contributed more than Dhs216.7bn to Dubai’s GDP in 2007 and will play a crucial role in achieving the emirate’s targeted economic growth of 11% a year by 2015.

The World Travel and Tourism Council has referred to Dubai as a global leading example of how travel and tourism can be effectively harnessed for economic growth and prosperity.

“The tourism industry reflects both the UAE’s vibrant modernity and the richness of our heritage; it is also a vital part of the country’s economic diversification initiatives.

We shall continue to aggressively promote this growth sector to our international partners and further solidify the UAE’s global status as a business and leisure travel hub,” concluded H.E. Engr. Al Mansouri.

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