Abu Dhabi: Sultan Bin Saeed Al Mansouri, Minister of Economy, has said that the tourism sector is an important part of the national economy and a core pillar of the economic diversification policy of the state.

In an interview with the Emirates News Agency, WAM, Al Mansouri said that the inclusion of the National Council for Tourism in the Ministry of Economy as part of the major federal government structural changes came in the context of the vision of the wise leadership of President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, to support economic diversification in the country.

Al Mansouri added that the tourism sector currently serves as one of the important tributaries of national income and its role will be enhanced in the near future under the leadership’s directives to activate its role as a vital cog of the national economy.

On enhancing the role of the tourism sector at the state level, he said, “Practically tourism sector is already well-established aspect of the national economy, with plans to further develop and enhance its role in the coming period, and we will work in coordination and cooperation with various relevant authorities at the local and federal level to provide new ideas and innovative initiatives to strengthen the role of the tourism sector in the economic work system in the state.”

Al Mansouri added that the tourism industry will prove even more reliable in a post-oil economy. He explained that the total contribution of travel and tourism sector in the UAE’s domestic product amounted to about Dh134 billion in 2015, accounting for 8.7 per cent of GDP to grow by 4.4 per cent this year, according to data issued by the World Travel and Tourism Council. This contribution will rise at a rate of 5.4 per cent annually over the next ten years to reach to Dh236.8 billion by 2026, he added.

The World Travel and Tourism Council in its economic report about the UAE issued recently, has noted that the direct contribution of the tourism sector to the national GDP last year amounted to Dh64.9 billion, with a share of 4.2 per cent, predicted to amount to Dh67.6 billion and to grow annually at a rate of 5.7 per cent, to reach Dh118.1 billion by 2026 year.