Riyadh Welcomes the World

Hosted by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the official celebrations in Riyadh brought together more than 50 Ministers of Tourism alongside hundreds of high-level delegates from both the public and private sectors. They were joined by UNWTO’s Member States and other tourism stakeholders around the world celebrating in their own countries. Welcoming them all, UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili and Minister of Tourism for Saudi Arabia Ahmed Al Khateeb, emphasized the need for the whole of the sector to step up investments that deliver for People, Planet and for Prosperity.

Opening the celebrations, His Excellency Minister Ahmed Al Khateeb reaffirmed the Kingdom’s commitment to tourism development and strong support of UNWTO’s mission. He said: “It is a privilege and honour to host World Tourism Day in Riyadh. Let’s celebrate our achievements in coming back strongly from the pandemic. But let’s also travel with confidence into the future. A future where large countries and smaller countries can work together to achieve amazing things. And let’s all move in harmony towards a new horizon for global tourism.”

UNWTO Secretary-General Pololikashvili said: “Tourism must lead the way in accelerating our shift to greater resilience and sustainability. For this, we need more investment, as well as the right kind of investment. That is the central message of this year’s World Tourism Day, a message that is being amplified from the official hosts of the celebrations, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and echoed around the world by our Members everywhere.”

Tourism Investments in the Spotlight

Exploring the meaning behind Tourism and Green Investments, the official World Tourism Day celebrations featured a series of expert panels, each focusing one key priority for the sector right now. These included: Investing in people, through education and jobs; Investing in destinations, including new destinations and products to reduce overcrowding and diversify benefits; investing in innovation and entrepreneurship, and Investing in green transformation.

The expert-led discussions, which featured contributions from Ministers of Tourism as well as from business and finance leaders, were complemented by strong actions as UNWTO announced several key initiatives:

  • UNWTO Secretary-General Pololikashvili and Saudi Minister of Tourism Al Khateeb jointly announced plans for a new Riyadh School for Tourism and Hospitality. The School will offer eight levels of educational programmes, ranging from certificates through to courses at the Bachelors and Master’s degree level, with a clear focus on bridging the current skills gaps in tourism.
  • UNWTO announced the winners of its inaugural Women in Tech Start-Up Competition. The winning women-led enterprises were selected for the relevance of their work to tourism for development and for their potential to scale up. All of them will benefit from support and mentorship from UNWTO’s innovation network.

By Nadeem Faisal Baiga