Throughout history, cities have become significant drivers for
growth, innovation and competitiveness in the overall economy. At the beginning
of the 19th century, only 2% of the world’s population was urban. Now, cities
accommodate 54.5% of the world population and generate more than 60% of global
Sustainable Urban Tourism is considered as an economic activity with a high potential to stimulate local economic growth because of its complimentary with other economic activities, its contribution to GDP, job creation, foreign exchange and services exports. This process builds a quality visitor experience and in the meantime, safeguards and enhances the quality of life for the local community by providing economic, social, cultural and environmental benefits.
The United Nations 70th General Assembly has designated 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development (A/RES/70/193). This is a unique opportunity to raise awareness of the contribution of sustainable tourism to development among public and private sector, decision-makers and the public; while mobilizing all stakeholders to work together in making tourism a catalyst for positive change.
The Middle East and North Africa Region (MENA), which accounts for approximately 6% of the world’s population, is undergoing a transformation which also indicates a significant urbanization trend. With its world-class combination of cultural and natural attractions, the MENA region has long held a powerful allure for tourists. In order to reap the full economic and cultural benefits of enhancing sustainable and competitive tourism by investing in the full spectrum of cultural, historical and religious assets the cities have to offer. It is necessary to re-address the ways urban tourism is planned, developed, governed and managed in-line with national/local urbanization policies, tourism policies and through coordination, cooperation and partnerships with all the related public and private stakeholders and the civil society.