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Visitors tour the rock-hewn tombs of Madain Saleh near the city of Al Ula. Saudi Arabia's objective is to increase the tourism sector’s contribution to the gross domestic product from three per cent to 10 per cent by 2030. Image Credit: Reuters file

Dubai: Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Tourism, Ahmed Al Khateeb, has announced that the kingdom will create up to 250,000 jobs as it hosts Expo 2030 in Riyadh.

Speaking at the first-ever Global Labour Market Conference (GLMC) in Riyadh, Al Khateeb emphasised the importance of these sustainable job opportunities.

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At the ministerial roundtable session titled “Accelerated Progress in the Labour Market,” the minister highlighted the significance of the Expo 2030 initiative in boosting job creation. He noted that more than 1,000 hotel rooms will be created in conjunction with the global exhibition, demonstrating the diverse employment opportunities it will bring.

The GLMC, inaugurated by Ahmad Al Rajhi, Minister of Human Resources and Social Development, saw over 6,000 delegates from more than 40 countries.

The conference serves as a platform for labour market stakeholders to discuss challenges and propose innovative solutions for the current and future international labour markets.

Highlighting the national tourism strategy launched in 2019, Al Khateeb stated the Kingdom’s objective to increase the tourism sector’s contribution to the gross domestic product (GDP) from three per cent to 10 per cent by 2030. This ambitious plan is expected to create one million additional jobs.

Al Khateeb underscored Saudi Arabia’s leadership role in the Executive Council of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and its upcoming hosting of the UNWTO General Assembly. The kingdom’s priorities for the UNWTO include sustainability, suitable job creation, tourism growth, and the preservation of destinations.

Addressing the evolving labour market, the minister noted the global population is expected to reach 8.5 billion by 2030. He emphasized the digitization of services, especially in trade and manufacturing, and its impact on employment. However, he acknowledged that despite the pandemic’s initial disruption to the travel and tourism sector, the industry has largely rebounded, with reports from the UN World Tourism Organization and the Travel and Tourism Council indicating a return to pre-pandemic levels.

Al Khateeb also highlighted the significant role of the tourism sector in global employment, representing 10 percent of the labor market. He stressed the importance of preserving the human element within the tourism sector, as it plays a crucial role in sharing cultural experiences and stories from various countries.