#Med2020 - Agenda

Regional Meetings


Ready to Travel? Tourism in Europe and the Gulf under, and after, the COVID-19 Pandemic

This virtual Regional Meeting co-organised by ISPI and KFCRIS will explore the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the tourism sectors in Europe and the Gulf and discuss prospects for their future. Since its outbreak, the COVID-19 pandemic has been posing grave challenges to economies around the world. Tourism is one of the sectors hit hardest by it. With travel restrictions resulting from the pandemic, this year is likely to see a significant decline in international tourist arrivals, estimated to be 58-78% globally. Europe and the Gulf are particularly affected by this slump: Mediterranean countries such as Italy, France, and Spain are the world’s leading tourist destinations, with the tourism sector being an indispensable part of their national economy, while the Gulf countries have been actively investing over the past decade in the development of tourism as a major pillar of their strategy to diversify their economies away from oil.

While prospects for the recovery of global tourism activities remain uncertain, countries in Europe and the Gulf are facing two-fold challenges of mitigating and managing the financial burdens caused by the pandemic and supporting the tourism sector until the pandemic and its repercussions will eventually end. Given the importance of the sector to the economy and employment, domestic, regional, and international efforts are required to accelerate the sector’s recovery by bringing about safe travel environments and providing effective financial stimuli. This Regional Meeting will contribute to such process by analysing the current impacts of the pandemic on the European and Gulf tourism sectors and jointly exploring tools and models to rebuild confidence in the sectors. It also aims to discuss ways to improve global cooperation for this end as well as strategies to facilitate research for finding shared solutions to the existing barriers.

Opening Address

Ahmed Alowfi, Researcher and Head of the Cultural Studies Unit, King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies (KFCRIS), Saudi Arabia
Annalisa Perteghella, Scientific Coordinator, MED Dialogues; and Research Fellow, Italian Institute for International Political Studies (ISPI)

Panel Discussion

Hammad Al-Balawi, Director General, Investment Department, Ministry of Tourism, Saudi Arabia
Basmah Al-Mayman, Director, Regional Department for the Middle East, United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO)
Urs Binggeli, Senior Knowledge Expert, McKinsey & Company, Switzerland
Cristina Mottironi, Director, Master in Economics and Tourism (MET), Bocconi University, Italy
Karen Young, Resident Scholar, American Enterprise Institute (AEI), USA

Chair: Ahmed Alowfi, Researcher and Head of the Cultural Studies Unit, KFCRIS, Saudi Arabia

Closing Remarks

Roberto Cantone, Ambassador of Italy to Saudi Arabia


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