Ras Al Khaimah will later this month host the UAE’s World Tourism Day Conference which this year has the theme of ‘Tourism for All – Promoting Universal Accessibility’. This is the second World Tourism Day conference being held in Ras Al Khaimah.
The conference is aligned with the 2016 United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) World Tourism Day focus of ‘Accessible Tourism’, which is being held on 27 September in Thailand. An annual UNTWO organised event, World Tourism Day aims to promote responsible, sustainable and universally accessible tourism.
The half-day conference, which will be held on Thursday 29 September at the Ras Al Khaimah Convention Centre, will see a keynote address from HH Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi, UAE Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Ras Al Khaimah.
The UAE’s World Tourism Day Conference will bring together international thought leaders in front of an audience of key industry stakeholders from across the UAE to discuss important matters that strengthen the tourism proposition in Ras al Khaimah and in the Emirates as a whole.
Among the keynote speakers is Ivor Ambrose, Managing Director of the European Network for Accessible Tourism (ENAT) and one of the world’s leading experts in policy and research into disability and ageing, accessible tourism and its social-economic impact.
“Ivor is flying direct from the UNTWO World Tourism Day event in Bangkok to attend the Ras Al Khaimah conference and has expressed his keen support of our commitment to open the debate on accessibility for all within the UAE,” explained Haitham Mattar, CEO, Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority, who will also address the conference.
Since its inception in 1980, World Tourism Day is celebrated annually to foster international awareness of the importance of tourism, its social, cultural, political and economic value, and its potential to contribute to reaching the Sustainable Development Goals which address some of the society’s most pressing challenges.
“Accessible tourism for all is about the creation of environments that can cater to the needs of all of us, whether traveling or staying at home due to a disability, even temporary, or to families with small children, or the ageing population. At some point in our lives, sooner or later, we all benefit from universal accessibility in tourism that will focus on the key needs of two specific leisure segments – families with small children and elderly travelers,” added Mattar.
The UNWTO strongly encourages nations to make all tourist facilities, products and services accessible for everyone. This accessibility is crucial to attain sustainable tourist policies.
The conference has attracted subject expert speakers and will also feature a highly focused panel discussion, which will throw light on the specific tourism needs of families with small children and the ageing population. Panel members include: Andrew Dent, the CEO of the UK’s highly popular Family Traveller Magazine; Urs Binggelli, Senior Travel and Tourism Expert at global management consultants McKinsey & Company and Scott Booth, Research Director and Head of Travel, Tourism & Leisure for the internet-based market research firm, YouGov ME.
Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority also sees the conference as an opportunity to demonstrate the emirate’s capabilities in staging high profile meetings. “We are supporting the development of our MICE profile with the creation of an events calendar for the destination which we anticipate will act as a spur to attract additional meetings, convention, incentives and exhibition business,” added Mattar.