Despite having potential in its medical infrastructure, Arab countries lose a large portion of the $27bn its nationals spend annually on medical treatment abroad, according to the head of the Arab Tourism Organisation Bandar Bin Fahad Al-Fuhaid.
The Arab Tourism Organisation is an Arab League-affiliated institution.
At the Arabian Travel Market held on Tuesday, Fuhaid said that the infrastructure of medical tourism in many Arab countries still needs development, and the organisation is working on this matter.
The organisation is interested in the marine tourism sector and is conducting studies to launch 10 to 14 day cruises between Arab countries, he said.
The organisation attended and participated in the Arab Tourism Forum held in Sharm El-Sheikh last week, which was held to unite support for Egypt’s tourism sector. The forum was attended by a number of businesspeople, travel and tourism companies, and regional journalists.
The Council of Arab Tourism Ministries decided in December 2015 that Egypt and Tunisia would be the primarily tourism destinations promoted in 2016.
The Arab unified visa for tourism is the organisation’s dream, according to Fuhaid. While it is not impossible, the situation in many Arab countries prevents the organisation from achieving it at the moment.
The organisation has taken the first step in achieving this dream. It has coordinated with the Council of Arab Interior Ministries to grant visas to Arab nationals to visit any Arab country, but only for group trips. This decision was sent to all related institutions for its immediate implementation.
“Our goal is to achieve tourist unity by allowing freedom of movement between Arab countries and launching mega projects,” Fuhaid said.
The organisation has an integrated project in the field of training and rehabilitation as well as holding courses and workshops on e-marketing for tourism activities. In addition, it has quality programmes for tourist facilities and an internationally accredited team for the rehabilitation of tourist facilities.