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World Tourism Day 2023: Tourism and Green Investments
- All Regions
27 - 28 September | Four Seasons Hotel, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
For World Tourism Day 2023, UNWTO highlights the need for more and better-targeted investments for people, for planet and for prosperity. Now is the time for new and innovative solutions, not just traditional investments that promote and underpin economic growth and productivity.
OPENING CEREMONY & WELCOME REMARKS
- H. E. Mr Ahmed Al Khateeb , Minister of Tourism, Saudi Arabia
- Mr. Zurab Pololikashvili , Secretary-General, UNWTO
SETTING THE SCENE, Presentation of UNWTO's Global Tourism Investment Framework
- Natalia Bayona , Executive Director, UNWTO
THE POWER OF TOURISM: BUILDING BRIDGES
- Opening remarks by HH P. Haifa Al Saud , Vice Minister of Tourism, Saudi Arabia
- Moderator: Ms. Suzan Kianpour , Journalist, BBC News
- Young people have growing concerns around the environmental impact of travel. They have increased consciousness.
- Travelers are increasingly questioning sustainability initiatives – are they really sustainable or greenwashing.
- There is a lack of understanding of importance and good of travel: Weighting benefits vs. unintended consequences.
- How do we bridge the cultural gaps and highlighting the value of tourism?
- H.E. Mr. Mehmet Nuri Ersoy , Minister, Ministry of Culture and Tourism, Türkiye
- Ms. Julia Simpson , CEO, WTTC
- Mr. Nika Gilauri , CEO, Reformatics
- Mr. Niall Gibbons , Tourism Sector Head, NEOM
- Mr. Leo Wang , CEO, Swiss Education Group
INVESTING IN OUR PEOPLE: IS TOURISM GETTING THE RIGHT TALENT?
- Concerns of employees relating to job security, post-COVID, of the risks of going back into travel
- Travel & Tourism is not a magnet for top talent
- Curriculum refresh – how up to date are we?
- H.E Ms. Rizki Handayani Mustafa , Deputy Minister for Industry and Investments, Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy of Republic of Indonesia
- H.E. Ms. Angela Herliani Tanoesoedibjo , Vice Minister, Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy of Republic of Indonesia
- Mr. Juan Jose Güemes Barrios , Vice President Finance IE University
- Ms. Christine Böckelmann , Dean, Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts
- Mr. Haitham Mattar , Managing Director, EMEA, IHG Hotels & Resorts
- Mr. Benoit Etienne-Domenget , CEO, Sommet Education
- H.E. Mr. Ahmed Al Khateeb , Minister of Tourism, Saudi Arabia
- Mr. Zurab Pololikashvili , Secretary General, UNWTO
INVESTING IN OUR DESTINATIONS: THE POTENTIAL OF THE UNDISCOVERED
- Moderator: Mr. Jacopo Dettoni , Editor, fDi Intelligence, Financial Times
- Top destinations get the majority of tourism, causing overcrowding and negative environmental impact on a few destinations
- The majority of destinations are underserved by tourism and don't reap benefits (Untapped potential)
- New places, new times (dispersion)
- Moving investments to new destinations
- Mr. Gines Martinez , CEO, JTG part of Alpitour World
- Mr. Gregory Djerejian , Group Head of Investments and Legal, Red Sea Global
- Ms. Roula Jouny , CEO, Tourism 365
- H.E. Ms. Rosa Ana Morillo Rodriguez , Secretary of State, Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism, Spain
INVESTING IN OUR PLANET: FLYING TO A SUSTAINABLE FUTURE
- Moderator: Mr. Marcelo Risi , Chief of Communications, UNWTO
- Aviation accounts for the largest % of GHG emissions of the sector
- Challenges of the sector re low profit margins and lack of economies of scale
- Countries such as France shifting policies around short-haul travel
- New technologies and solutions to enable sustainability
- H.E. Mr. George Ian Gooding-Edghill , Minister, Ministry of Tourism and International Transport, Barbados
- Mr. Ibrahim S. Koshy , CEO, Saudi Arabian Airlines (SAUDIA)
- Mr. Peter Bellew , Chief Operations Officer, Riyadh Air
- Mr. Basel Talal , Managing Director for Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Levant, Radisson Hotel Group
INVESTING IN OUR PROSPERITY: BRIDGING THE INNOVATION GAP
- Moderator: Ms. Suzanne Kianpour , Creator & Host, Women Building Peace
- Travel & Tourism not at the forefront of cutting edge technology
- Integrating new tech in travel – business model transformation required
- Incentivizing innovation through policy
- H.E. Ms. Angellah Jasmine Mbelwa Kairuki , Minister, Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism, United Republic of Tanzania
- Mr. Robin Ingle , CEO Ingle International
- Mr. Muzzammil Ahussain , CEO, Almosafer
- Mr. Frédéric Degret , CEO, Noah ReGen
INVESTING IN OUR PROSPERITY: POWERING ENTREPRENEURSHIP
- How do we better enable entrepreneurs who account for 80% of the sector
- Financing challenges
- Opportunity for women and youth
- Supporting SMEs in the sector- low resilience
- H.E. Ms. Yadira Gomez , Minister, Ministry of Tourism, Honduras
- Mr. Javier Villamizar , Operating Partner, SoftBank
- Mr. Ahmed Daoud , Executive Director of Innovation, Royal Commission for AlUla
- Mr. Eduardo Carmona , CEO, Sudamerik
WOMEN IN TECH START-UP COMPETITION FINAL
- Setting the scene
- Announcement of winners
- Presentation round of winners
AWARD CEREMONY & HANDING OUT TROPHIES
UNWTO GENERAL ASSEMBLY: ANNOUNCEMENT FROM THE NATIONAL GOVERNMENT OF UZBEKISTAN
- Mr. Fahd Hamidaddin , CEO and Board Member of the Saudi Tourism Authority
- Mr. Arnold Donald , WTTC Chair
INVESTING IN A SUSTAINABLE FUTURE FOR TRAVEL AND TOURISM
The Travel & Tourism sector's economic competitiveness is significantly impacted by climate change and environmental degradation. To reach the sector's ambitious goal, actionable and accessible solutions are needed in addition to additional investment amounting to $220-310 billion a year through to 2030. What solutions and policies can be implemented by governments around the world to ensure a sustainable tourism future that is both competitive and good for people and planet?
- H.E. Khalid Al Falih, Minister, Ministry of Investment, Saudi Arabia
- H.E. Patricia De Lille , Minister, Ministry of Tourism, South Africa
- H.E. Nikolina Brnjac , Minister, Ministry of Tourism and Sports, Croatia
- H.E. Shirpad Yesso Naik , Minister, Ministry of Tourism, India
- H.E. Chester Cooper , Deputy Prime Minister, Minister, Ministry of Tourism,Investments, and Aviation, Bahamas
PUBLIC - PRIVATE SECTOR SESSION: A SEAMLESS END-TO-END TRAVEL EXPERIENCE
- Moderator: Ms. Maria Ramos , International News Anchor
From biometric scans and digital passes to in-app room keys and robots that handle luggage and cleaning, technological innovations are transforming the sector and reshaping the entire end-to-end traveler experience. Today, over 48% of baby boomers are demanding technologies to reduce queues and 45% of passengers are ready to discard their paper passport. As we look to the future, how can the sector better refine its end-to-end experience while still maintaining meaningful human connections?
- H.E. Gloria Guevara , Chief Special Advisor to the Minister of Tourism, Ministry of Tourism, Saudi Arabia
- Mr. PierFrancesco Vago , Executive Chairman, MSC Cruise
- Mr. Ritesh Agarwal , CEO, OYO
- Mr. Matthew Upchurch , CEO, Virtuoso
- Mr. Greg Webb , CEO, Travelport
DESTINATION DEVELOPMENT, COLLABORATION, AND PARTNERSHIPS
- Moderated by Ms. Anita Mendiratta , Special Advisor to UNWTO Secretary-General and Saudi Tourism Authority
Investment in destination development is vital for the tourism industry as it enhances the visitor experience, boosts competitiveness, drives economic growth, creates employment opportunities, diversifies the economy, promotes sustainability, and facilitates effective destination branding and marketing. By committing resources to develop and improve a destination's tourism infrastructure and services, destinations can attract more tourists, increase revenue, and generate long-term benefits for the local community.
- HRH Prince Turki Bin Talal , Governor of Aseer region and Head of Aseer Development Authority
- Ms. Jerry Inzerillo , Group Chief Officer of DGDA
- Mr. Fatih Tamince , Managing Partner FTG Development and Executive Board Member Rixos Hospitality
ENABLING TOURISM INVESTMENT
- Moderated by Ms. Suzan Kianpour , Journalist, BBC News
Tourism investment enablement is a process of creating an environment conducive to attracting and facilitating investments through infrastructure development, regulatory framework, investment incentives, in addition to marketing and public-private partnerships
- Ms. Saleh Al Khatbi , Deputy of Investment Development, Saudi Arabia
- Ms. Raul Gonzalez , Chairman of Barcelo Group
WTD 2024 HANDOVER TO GEORGIA
PLEDGE VIDEO AND GROUP PHOTO
World Tourism Investment Forum
Global Tourism Economy Forum 2023
World Tourism Day 2022 | “Rethinking Tourism”
World Tourism Day 2021
Discover the magic of Saudi: World Tourism Day, FIFA Club World Cup, Riyadh Season and more
Whether you're a football fanatic, a history buff, a music lover or a culinary explorer, Saudi promises an unforgettable journey that combines tradition, innovation and warm hospitality to all its visitors.
Tuesday 10 October 2023 23:06, UK
Saudi, a land of rich history, breath-taking landscapes and unmatched hospitality, is set to host visitors from around the world in the coming months with a line-up of exciting events and unique attractions.
From the celebration of World Tourism Day in Riyadh to the thrill of the FIFA Club World Cup in Jeddah, and the dazzling Riyadh Season, Saudi has something for everyone as it showcases its broad choice of entertainment and cultural heritage.
With its practical and convenient eVisa system, accessible transportation options and cutting-edge payment solutions like Apple Pay, visiting Saudi has never been easier, or more inviting.
One of the best examples of this new Saudi is World Tourism Day.
The event, celebrated every year on 27 September and hosted in Riyadh this year, is an opportunity for countries to promote tourism's social, cultural, and economic significance.
In Saudi, this day is marked with various events and exhibitions that highlight the country's deep history and customs. Tourists were able to explore cultural sites, visit museums and enjoy traditional Saudi cuisine during the celebration.
This World Tourism Day also saw Saudi partner with the UN to launch the Open Minds Campaign.
Alongside the UN World Tourism Office, Saudi pledged to help develop tourism in less visited regions, to open up new opportunities, and to create moments to establish a dialogue between strangers.
Travel should be an experience that connects strangers and brings us closer together as a global population.
From culture to corner kicks, Saudi is also set to host the prestigious FIFA Club World Cup in Jeddah on 12-22 December 2023.
Saudi's enthusiasm for sports is undeniable, and the tournament is a testament to this passion.
The country is experienced at welcoming teams and fans from across the globe having hosted a Formula One Grand Prix for several years now.
The Club World Cup will not only showcase world-class athleticism but will also offer a unique opportunity to experience Saudi's vibrant atmosphere and hospitality.
Another chance to catch a glimpse of this distinctive heritage is during Riyadh Season (28 October). The event is an annual entertainment extravaganza that transforms the capital city into a hub of cultural and artistic activities in October of every year, running until March the following year.
The event features concerts, theatre performances, art exhibitions, sports showdowns and culinary delights, making it an unmissable experience for visitors. Riyadh Season demonstrates Saudi's commitment to becoming a global leisure destination.
Visitors can got to RiyadhSeason.com to buy tickets for events taking place during this period, including the heavyweight boxing showdown between Francis Ngannou and Tyson Fury.
As a tourist destination, Saudi boasts a diverse range of historic and natural treasures, including seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
These sites offer a window into the country's fascinating past and stunning landscapes, with Hegra in AlUla being a good example of this. An ancient Nabatean city and the first UNESCO heritage site registered in Saudi, Hegra is known for its remarkable rock-cut tombs and archaeological significance.
Elsewhere in the country, the coastal city of Jeddah has a historic district that traces its roots back to the 7th Century.
Sitting on the 2,000km Red Sea coast, Jeddah became an important harbour for ships travelling on trade routes across the Indian Ocean, bringing goods to Makkah. This trade transformed the city into a vibrant multicultural hub, known for its unique architectural style.
Another UNESCO World Heritage Site is the At-Turaif District in Diriyah, Riyadh, which served as the birthplace of the Saudi state, located in the heart of the Arabian Peninsula.
Established in the 15th Century, the site showcases the unique Najdi architectural style while offering an experience of the Saudi dynasty's first capital city. Diriyah is a must-see for visitors to the country as it boasts unique historic and culinary offerings throughout the year.
The best part? Enjoying all of this has never been easier.
Thanks to the introduction of eVisas and improved accessibility, visiting Saudi has become more practical than ever. The country now offers convenient eVisas to more than 50 countries, making the application process quick and hassle-free for tourists. This initiative encourages travellers to make their first trip to Saudi and explore the country's diverse attractions.
For travellers in transit, Saudi offers the Stopover Visa, allowing them to experience a taste of the country during layovers for up to 96 hours.
While in the kingdom there is an array of transportation choices, including ride-sharing services like Uber and Careem, car rentals, and a well-connected public transportation system. These options ensure visitors can explore the nation with ease and flexibility.
Meanwhile, the Gulf country is at the forefront of adopting modern payment solutions, including Apple Pay and contactless payments. Tourists can enjoy the convenience of cashless transactions at hotels, restaurants, and shops. This innovative approach enhances the overall travel experience by providing a secure and efficient way to manage finances while exploring the country.
Saudi's calendar is filled with exciting activities and events that cater to a wide range of interests, from sports enthusiasts to culture lovers.
With its UNESCO World Heritage Sites, practical eVisa system, accessible transportation options, and cutting-edge payment solutions, visiting Saudi has never been more appealing. This land of contrasts, where ancient history meets modernity, invites travellers to discover its treasures, embrace its culture, and create unforgettable memories.
So, whether you're a football fanatic, a history buff, a music lover, or a culinary explorer, Saudi promises an unforgettable journey that combines tradition, innovation, and warm hospitality to all its visitors.
- Saudi Arabia
Matador Original Series
Designing the Future of Travel: Global Leaders Gather in Saudi Arabia for World Tourism Day 2023
T ourism leaders from around the world will join together in Saudi Arabia’s capital city, Riyadh, for 2023’s United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) World Tourism Day on September 27 and 28. Global tourism ministers and others in the industry will participate in events to connect and collaborate. The location of this year’s event shows how far tourism has come in the few short years since Saudi Arabia opened to tourists in 2019.
This year, World Tourism Day’s theme is “Tourism and Green Investments.” The focus will be on sustainability for both people and the environment as the tourism industry’s economic and social impact grows. Three key aspects will guide the event: mutual understanding, economic sustainability, and social prosperity.
UNWTO forecasts tourism to reach 80 to 95 percent of pre-pandemic levels in 2023, with some organizations putting the total tourism value at $9.5 trillion in GDP contribution, according to a press release. By 2024, tourism is expected to surpass 2019.
“We have a historic opportunity to chart a new course for the global tourism sector, centered on sustainable development, job creation, and economic resilience,” Ahmed Al-Khateeb, minister of tourism of Saudi Arabia, says in a press release. “Tourism – as a catalyst for change – fosters mutual understanding, builds bridges and safeguards cultural heritage and environmental conservation, contributing to a more harmonious world.”
In 2023, Saudi Arabia was elected to Chair of the UNWTO. The country’s Ministry of Tourism was founded in 2020, and leads Saudi Arabia’s efforts to create jobs and welcome 100 million visits by 2030 with the goal of growing tourism from three percent of GDP to 10 percent. It’s already well on it’s way: destinations in Saudi Arabia feature world-class hotels like Habitas and Banyan Tree , adventure trips to historic sites , and unparalleled stargazing experiences .
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Global tourism leaders and sector experts unite in Saudi for World Tourism Day 2023
Tuesday, September 19, 2023 Favorite
Leaders from across the global tourism sector are set to unite in Riyadh for this year’s UNWTO World Tourism Day (WTD), which will be celebrated from 27th-28th September.
Through a range of impactful events, global ministers, industry leaders and experts will highlight the power of tourism and explore avenues for collaboration to foster growth of the sector, placing people, the planet and prosperity front and center of proceedings.
Under the theme of “Tourism and Green Investments”, WTD 2023 will examine the role of investment in people and planet to secure livelihoods and foster mutual understanding, while exploring opportunities to extend the reach of the industry’s economic and social impact to more people around the world, safeguarding prosperity for all.
The global tourism sector is forecast to reach $9.5 trillion in GDP contribution in 2023, according to the WTTC.
This is in line with UNWTO’s forecast that tourism remains well on track to reach 80% to 95% of pre-pandemic levels this year and is widely expected to exceed 2019 levels in 2024.
As one of the biggest economic drivers of the global economy, the sector is responsible for a wealth of business and employment opportunities, while also playing a key role in bridging cultures, connecting people and enhancing mutual understanding.
Reflective of the sector’s potential as a key driver for change, three themes will guide proceedings of the event: mutual understanding, economic sustainability, and social prosperity.
His Excellency Ahmed Al-Khateeb, Minister of Tourism of Saudi Arabia, said:
“We have a historic opportunity to chart a new course for the global tourism sector, centered on sustainable development, job creation, and economic resilience. Tourism – as a catalyst for change – fosters mutual understanding, builds bridges and safeguards cultural heritage and environmental conservation, contributing to a more harmonious world.
World Tourism Day 2023 is an important platform for the world to celebrate the sector’s successes and explore solutions to its challenges.
Saudi Arabia is honored to host this esteemed occasion and they look forward to welcoming tourism leaders from the public and private sectors to Riyadh.
Additionally, Mr. Zurab Pololikashvili, Secretary-General of the UNWTO, added:
“This World Tourism Day, we focus on the vital need to invest in building a more sustainable sector for people, planet and prosperity.
The day also makes clear why UNWTO underscores the need for investment in education and for greater innovation as the foundations for long-term growth and transformation. This year’s official celebration in Saudi Arabia reflects how tourism is being embraced to diversify economies and generate opportunities for all.”
By hosting this event four years after it first opened to global tourists in 2019, Saudi Arabia demonstrates its commitment as a dedicated tourism sector convenor that aims to showcase its progress in connecting Saudis to the world, building bridges between cultures, nurturing hospitality talent and creating investment opportunities for the international community.
Marking the most significant assembly of global tourism leaders in the 43-year history of World Tourism Day, gauged by the number of ministers in attendance, WTD 2023 will feature a series of engaging sessions, panel discussions, and workshops led by renowned sector experts and government leaders.
Event participants will also attend a gala dinner in Riyadh’s UNESCO Heritage Site, Diriyah, to celebrate World Tourism Day and its global significance.
The scale of the event being hosted in Riyadh showcases the importance attached by the Saudi Arabian government to the development of the global tourism sector, and follows the Kingdom’s election to Chair of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) for 2023.
The event in Riyadh for the UNWTO WTD 2023 on 27 and 28 September showcases the capital’s growth as a hub for major business events and promises to be a major milestone in the global tourism calendar, offering valuable insights and inspiring discussions on the role of tourism to bridge cultures and foster mutual understanding.
Source: Ministry of Tourism of Saudi Arabia
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GLOBAL TOURISM LEADERS AND SECTOR EXPERTS UNITE IN SAUDI ARABIA TO CELEBRATE WORLD TOURISM DAY 2023
Guest Writers are not employed, compensated or governed by TD, opinions and statements are from the specific writer directly
- The "Tourism and Green Investments" theme this year aims to promote mutual understanding, stimulate economic sustainability and nurture social prosperity in the sector
- With the world's fastest post-pandemic sector recovery among G20 countries, Saudi Arabia's hosting of World Tourism Day reflects its ambition to place tourism and sustainability at the heart of its Vision 2030 transformation.
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Montevideo, January 7th 2024 - 16:16 UTC
World Tourism Day will be celebrated in Saudi Arabia underlining Tourism and Green Investments
Leaders from across the global tourism sector are set to unite in Riyadh for this year's UNWTO World Tourism Day (WTD), which will be celebrated on 27-28 September, under the theme of Tourism and Green Investments.
Riyadh hosted the event for the first time in 2019. Marking the most significant assembly of global tourism leaders in the 43-year history of World Tourism Day, gauged by global ministers, industry leaders, and experts in attendance, WTD 2023 will examine the role of investment in people and the planet to secure livelihoods and foster mutual understanding, while exploring opportunities to extend the reach of the industry's economic and social impact to more people around the world, safeguarding prosperity for all.
Hosting this gathering aims to boost Saudi Arabia's position on the map of international events in general, and tourism in particular, as one of the fastest-growing destinations among the G20 countries. The Kingdom is also the chair of the World Tourism Organization for 2023, and the host of its headquarters in the Middle East.
Event participants will also attend a gala dinner in Riyadh's UNESCO Heritage site, Diriyah, to celebrate World Tourism Day.
Saudi Minister of Tourism Ahmed Al-Khateeb said hosting this significant global gathering reinforces the status of Saudi Arabia and its pioneering role in restructuring the future of global tourism.
He added that it also confirms the success of Riyadh in becoming a regional hub for the organization, as well as the Kingdom’s initiatives and achievements during the past four years.
“This World Tourism Day, we focus on the vital need to invest in building a more sustainable sector for people, planet, and prosperity,” said Zurab Pololikashvili, Secretary-General of the UNWTO.
“The day also makes clear why UNWTO underscores the need for investment in education and for greater innovation as the foundations for long-term growth and transformation. This year's official celebration in Saudi Arabia reflects how tourism is being embraced to diversify economies and generate opportunities for all,” Pololikashvili added.
The global tourism sector is forecast to reach US$ 9.5 trillion in GDP contribution in 2023, according to the WTTC. This is in line with UNWTO's forecast that tourism remains well on track to reach 80% to 90% of pre-pandemic levels this year and is widely expected to exceed 2019 levels in 2024.
The global impact of tourism is growing in bridging cultures and providing business and employment opportunities.
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Destination KSA - Your Guide to Saudi
World Tourism Day 2023 Takes on Riyadh
World Tourism Day (WTD) 2023, under the title of “Tourism and Green Investments,” is preparing to take on Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on September 27th and 28th. The highly anticipated event will involve global cooperation in exploring investment prospects to strengthen the tourism industry’s resilience and propel it into a future centered on sustainability and investment. […]
World Tourism Day (WTD) 2023, under the title of “Tourism and Green Investments,” is preparing to take on Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on September 27th and 28th. The highly anticipated event will involve global cooperation in exploring investment prospects to strengthen the tourism industry’s resilience and propel it into a future centered on sustainability and investment.
WTD 2023 will include top-tier tourism leaders who will engage in keynote addresses and panel discussions revolving around the three fundamental UNWTO themes: people, planet, and prosperity. The event will act as a forum for participants to delve into the major potential of tourism. It will spotlight tourism’s role in helping cross-cultural connections, preserving our environment, and pursuing a more interconnected global community.
The day of the event focuses on the UNWTO theme of ‘Tourism and Green Investments.’ Panels will examine different subjects, including the role of tourism in building bridges, investment in human capital, unlocking the potential of less-explored tourism destinations, the challenges and solutions for a sustainable future, and highlighting the importance of innovation gap and entrepreneurship. The first day will include a dinner at Diriyah, Saudi Arabia, to celebrate WTD2023.
Day two consists of a ‘’Tourism for People, Prosperity, and Intercultural Dialogue’ theme. It encompasses sessions dedicated to the public and private sectors. The public sector session will look at the industry’s sustainable future, while the private sector session will delve into different travel experiences. Notably, the event will include a session for the handover of WTD 2024 from Saudi Arabia to Georgia, setting the stage for Georgia’s hosting of the event next year.
The event has an impressive lineup of speakers, including Saudi Tourism Minister Ahmed Al-Khateeb, UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili, and Saudi Deputy Tourism Minister Princess Haifa bint Mohammed Al-Saud. These speakers, along with other additional global figures, signify the industry’s commitment to celebrating achievements and devising solutions to key challenges
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres recognizes tourism as an influential force for progress. On World Tourism Day, he emphasizes the critical need for green investments to construct a tourism sector that benefits both people and the planet. World Tourism Day 2023 is sure to shape the concept of tourism towards a more sustainable and prosperous direction.
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Saudi Arabia hosts World Tourism Day
SINGAPORE, 27 September 2023: More than 500 government officials and tourism industry experts representing 120 countries will attend the annual World Tourism Day celebrations in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, from 27 to 28 September.
Now in its 43 rd year, the special day will see the tourism industry leaders do what they do best: talk about tourism at every opportunity while amassing grossly enlarged carbon footprints.
The breadth of high-level speakers showcases the collective impetus across the industry to celebrate the sector’s successes while exploring solutions to its most pressing challenges.
Most of the speakers are part of a global circuit of talking globetrotters who have accumulated an inexcusable carbon footprint that far exceeds the value of what they are saying, mainly as it is repetitive and largely irrelevant to those struggling to keep their travel and hospitality enterprises above the breakeven benchmark.
Speakers confirmed for the two-day talk shop
His Excellency Ahmed Al-Khateeb, Minister of Tourism of Saudi Arabia
Zurab Pololikashvili, Secretary-General of the United Nations World Tourism Organization
His Excellency Khalid Al Falih, Minister of Investment of Saudi Arabia
Her Highness Princess Haifa Bint Mohammed Al Saud, Vice Minister of Tourism
Her Excellency Patricia de Lille, Minister of Tourism of South Africa
Her Excellency Nikolina Brnjac, Minister of Tourism and Sports of the Republic of Croatia
His Excellency Mehmet Ersoy, Minister of Culture and Tourism of Turkey
Her Excellency Rosa Ana Morillo Rodriguez, Secretary of State, Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism of Spain
Julia Simpson, CEO of the World Travel & Tourism Council
Pansy Ho, Secretary General of the Global Tourism Economy Forum
Captain Ibrahim Koshy, the CEO of Saudi Arabian Airlines (SAUDIA)
Pierfrancesco Vago, CEO of MSC Cruises
Greg Webb, CEO of Travelport
Matthew Upchurch, CEO of Virtuoso
Ritesh Agarwal, CEO of OYO
UN Secretary-General António Guterre comments: “Tourism is a powerful force for progress and mutual understanding. But this force must be protected and nurtured to deliver its full benefits. On this World Tourism Day, we recognise the vital need for green investments to build a tourism sector that delivers for people and the planet. So, let us all do more to harness the full potential of sustainable tourism. Because sustainable tourism is investing in a better future for all.”
WTD 2023 is waving the theme flag “Tourism and Green Investments” to foster global collaboration to examine investment opportunities to strengthen the resilience of the tourism industry and steer the sector towards an investment-led and sustainably focused future.
The scale of the event being hosted in Riyadh showcases the importance of the Saudi government to the development of the global tourism sector. The Kingdom was elected chair of the executive council of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) for 2023 and hosted the World Travel and Tourism Council’s Global Summit in Riyadh last year.
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For the first time, Saudi Arabia will host more than 500 leaders, experts and officials from 120 countries around the world in Riyadh, to speak at World Tourism Day panel discussions.
World Tourism Day 2023 will be held this September 27 under the theme ‘Tourism and Green Investment’ with the aim of strengthening global cooperation to explore opportunities to enhance the resilience of the sector and drive growth towards an investment-led and sustainability-focused future.
The participation of the speakers outlines the growth and prosperity of the global tourism sector and reflects the exceptional participation in this important occasion, which is the biggest celebration of World Tourism Day since its inception 43 years ago.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres said: “On World Tourism Day, we recognize the urgent need for green investments in order to build a tourism sector that serves people and the planet, and we must unite efforts to harness the full potential of sustainable tourism, as it is an investment in a bright future for all.”
Speakers will be led by Saudi Minister of Tourism Ahmed Al-Khatib, Secretary-General of the World Tourism Organization Zurab Pololikashvili, Saudi Minister of Investment Eng. Khalid Al-Falih, Deputy Minister of Tourism Princess Haifa bint Mohammed, Minister of Tourism of the Republic of South Africa Patricia de Lille, Minister of Tourism and Sports of the Republic of Croatia Nikolina Brinjak, Minister of Culture and Tourism of Turkey Mehmet Ersoy, Minister of State in the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism of Spain Rosa Ana Murillo Rodríguez, and CEO of the World Travel Council and tourism Julia Simpson, Secretary General of the World Tourism Economy Forum Pansy Ho, CEO of Saudi Arabian Airlines Captain Ibrahim Al-Kushi, CEO of MSC Cruises Pierfrancesco Vago, CEO of Travelport Greg Webb, CEO of Virtuoso Matthew Abshersh, and CEO of OYO Ritesh Agarwal.
Read: SAUDIA makes maiden flight to Red Sea International Airport
Saudi Minister of Tourism Ahmed Al-Khatib said that “hosting this important global forum enhances Saudi Arabia’s position and leading role in reshaping the future of the global tourism sector,” adding: “It also comes as an affirmation of Riyadh’s successes as a regional center for the organization, and its initiatives and achievements during the past four years.”
For his part, UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili pointed out that the focus during World Tourism Day is on the importance of investing in building a more sustainable sector, in order to build people and the growth and prosperity of the planet, in addition to the need to invest in education and promote innovation as a basis for long-term growth and development, pointing out that this year’s official celebration in Saudi Arabia reflects how tourism is adopted to diversify economies and provide opportunities for all.
The hosting came at a time when the sector’s contribution to global GDP reached $9.5 trillion in 2023, according to the World Travel & Tourism Council.
This is in line with the organization’s forecast that the sector is still on track to reach 80 to 90 percent of pre-pandemic levels this year, and is expected to exceed 2019 levels next year, with the increasing impact of tourism globally in building bridges between cultures, creating jobs and businesses.
The dialogue sessions will focus on a number of important topics, including: people, planet and prosperity, the role of the sector in building bridges between cultures, preserving the environment, investing in human resources, challenges and solutions to achieve a sustainable future, innovation and promoting entrepreneurship, and smooth and inclusive travel.
A gala dinner will be held in historic Diriyah, a UNESCO-accredited World Heritage Site, and a session will be held between Saudi Arabia and Georgia, to hand over the tasks of celebrating World Tourism Day next year.
Hosting this important event enhances Riyadh’s position and leadership in all fields around the world, including the global tourism sector. The Kingdom was elected Chairman of the Executive Council of the World Tourism Organization for the year 2023 and Riyadh hosted the World Travel and Tourism Council World Summit last year. Riyadh hosts the UNWTO Regional Office in the Middle East.
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Riyadh Hosts World Tourism Day
Under the theme “tourism and green investment,” riyadh played host to world tourism day 2023 on 27 september, aiming to promote growth, sustainability, and interdependence among nations while shaping the future of tourism. over 500 government officials, tourism leaders, and experts from 120 countries were brought together for the event..
At the conference, UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili stated: “This is a chance to reflect on the importance of our sector. Tourism is a pillar of our economies. It plays a central role in our societies and in our individual lives. And it offers solutions to some of our biggest challenges – including the climate emergency and the urgent need to shift to more sustainable economies. The power of tourism is enormous.
“But it is not a force that can be taken for granted. Instead, it must be supported, above all with investment. This World Tourism Day we recognize the theme of Tourism and Green Investments.
“The theme could not be more timely. 2023 was the hottest year on record. And extreme weather events like heat waves could become the new normal. Tourism needs to adapt.
“For this, we need to rethink how our sector is financed. We need to make it easier for investors of all kinds to support tourism projects with the potential to make a difference. Looking further ahead, we need investments that can empower tourism to build a better and fairer future for all.”
Tourism Pledges to Open Minds
In Riyadh, Secretary-General Pololikashvili also introduced “Tourism Opens Minds” , a landmark initiative designed to showcase the powerful role that tourism plays in bridging cultures and fostering peace and understanding. With UNWTO’s latest data indicating the sector is well on track to recover as much as 95% of pre-pandemic arrivals numbers by the end of 2023, Tourism Opens Minds is designed to ensure that this strong recovery is joined by a greater emphasis on tourists exploring less-visited destinations. The focus will be on:
- Making lesser-known destinations more accessible to all tourists and ensuring all visitors receive a warm welcome by host communities
- Promoting lesser-known destinations and actively working to make tourists visit them
- Working with governments and the private sector to encourage tourists themselves to be more open-minded in their choice of travel destination
To mark the launch, UNWTO unveiled a new symbol for the initiative, made up of the colours of the various flags of the world, and shared a pledge for the sector to unite around. A special pledge, to be supported by Governments, private sector leaders and tourists themselves , was shared with select delegates, calling on them to commit to promoting new and diverse travel destinations.
Investing in Tourism Education
To ensure that the World Tourism Day 2023 celebrations leave a lasting impact in Riyadh and across the wider region, UNWTO Secretary-General Pololikashvili joined with Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Tourism Ahmed Al-Khateeb to announce a joint project focused on creating new generations of skilled tourism workers:
- The Riyadh School of Tourism and Hospitality will be a collaborative effort between UNWTO, the Ministry of Tourism of Saudi Arabia and Qiddiya
- With 80% of all global tourism education programmes currently focused on hotel operations, the Riyadh School will deliver learning for every part of the diverse sector.
- The School will offer eight different levels of educational programmes including diplomas and certificates through to professional courses and courses at the Bachelors and Master’s degree level.
This cutting-edge institution will boast a sprawling campus exceeding US$1bn in investment and encompassing an expansive five million square meters within Qiddiya. Anticipated to commence operations by 2027, this initiative is described as a generous offering from Saudi Arabia to the global community, extending access to top-tier education in the realms of tourism and hospitality. Al-Khateeb expressed his admiration for the UNWTO Secretary-General’s visit to the school and interactions with students, underlining the school’s commitment to excellence in tourism education. The future campus in Qiddiya, covering an extensive 5,000,000 square meters, promises to be a game-changer in the industry.
UN Secretary-General, António Guterres sent a special message to the attendees, saying tourism is a powerful force for progress and mutual understanding, but that in order to deliver its full benefits, this force must be protected and nurtured: “Today, the climate emergency is threatening many travel destinations and the very survival of communities and economies that depend on tourism. And many developing countries that are severely affected by a changing climate are also facing a growing investment deficit and a cost-of-living crisis.
“On this World Tourism Day, we recognise the vital need for green investments to build a tourism sector that delivers for people and planet. Governments and businesses must invest in sustainable and resilient tourism practices. Private actors must adopt zero-emission pathways, lower their energy consumption and leverage renewable forms of energy. And everyone must protect the biodiversity and ecological balance of all destinations.
“Targeted investments can deliver jobs and support local businesses and industries while mitigating the environmental impacts of tourism, empowering communities, promoting their cultures, and contributing to essential social protection systems. So let us all do more to harness the full potential of sustainable tourism. Because investing in sustainable tourism is investing in a better future for all.”
Saudi Arabia’s Thriving Tourism Sector
Saudi Arabia has emerged as a prominent player in the global tourism arena, with its tourism sector employing approximately one in ten people worldwide. Minister of Tourism Ahmed bin Aqil Al-Khateeb highlighted the pivotal role of tourism as an economic driver, accounting for over 20% of GDP in some countries.
Over the years, the tourism sector has witnessed remarkable growth, evolving into a global industry. In 1970, tourism and global travel represented less than 3% of the global GDP. Today, the sector is recovering robustly from the COVID-19 pandemic, contributing to 10% of the global GDP. The number of passengers has skyrocketed, increasing by 700% from 118 million in the early 1970s to nearly 1.5 billion in 2019.
The tourism minister emphasised the significance of international cooperation to foster progress and balanced growth in the tourism sector. He stressed the importance of creating new opportunities for tourism and assisting smaller nations in achieving their tourism aspirations through strategic investments.
Saudi Arabia, as the host of World Tourism Day 2023, reaffirmed its commitment to opening doors to international investments in the tourism sector, enabling the private sector to access global capital for the development of world-class facilities. Natalia Bayona, Executive Director of UNWTO, underscored the importance of creating a new investments framework, focusing on education, sustainability, and innovation. This framework ensures the growth of vocational tourism jobs, aiming to create nearly seven million jobs by 2030.
Reflecting on the Day: People, Planet, and Prosperity
World Tourism Day encourages responsible travel, cultural exchange, and environmental care. It inspires travellers to invest sustainably in the environment, heritage, and diverse cultures, leaving a positive impact on their journeys.
This year’s theme, “Tourism and Green Investments”, calls upon travellers to find innovative ways to invest sustainably in the planet, its people, and diverse cultures, ensuring a positive environmental and cultural footprint.
“Tourism moves people, ideas, and economies. It brings us directly into other people’s lives. Tourism is fatal to preconceptions, as it has the power to bridge cultures.
Following the UNWTO session, Hazim Al-Hazmi, President – Europe and Americas at Saudi Tourism Authority stated on LinkedIn: “Tourism moves people, ideas, and economies. It brings us directly into other people’s lives. Tourism is fatal to preconceptions, as it has the power to bridge cultures.
“Because when we move, so do our minds. And the more we move, the more our minds and hearts open.
“So why then do we so often close ourselves off from the world? And allow the fear of the unknown, the feeling of not being welcome, the worry that the way is not yet paved, make us visit the same places, meet the same people, and have the same stories and experiences.
“Thus, I pledge to work with the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) to make lesser-known destinations more welcoming and accessible.
“We at the Saudi Tourism Authority | الهيئة السعودية للسياحة are thrilled to support the UNWTO’s “Tourism Opens Minds” campaign, which encourages people to take the pledge and travel locations other than the major ones.
“We invite visitors to explore #SaudiArabia and discover the many new wonders the Kingdom has to offer!”
Watch the video of Zurab Pololikashvili’s speech at WTD Riyadh:
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Saudi Arabia Seeks to Upgrade Tourism Services in Coastal Areas
Posted: January 5, 2024 | Last updated: January 5, 2024
The Saudi Red Sea Authority began its field visits to issue the necessary licenses for navigational and maritime tourism activities in the Red Sea, in accordance with its new regulations, with the aim of upgrading the quality and standards of coastal tourism services.
The new regulations came into effect in early November 2023 to promote the growth of coastal tourism while ensuring environmental sustainability.
The field visits target licensing operators of tourist marinas and navigation agents to ensure the sustainability of operations of coastal activities, raise safety levels in the sector, in addition to creating a smooth and unique experience for visitors, and promoting environmental awareness among all segments of society.
The authority conducted 14 visits, which included the governorates of Jeddah, Al-Laith, and the city of Jazan.
The Saudi Red Sea Authority was established in 2021, with the aim of enabling and regulating marine tourism and navigation activities within the geographical scope of the Red Sea in the Kingdom. It also seeks to facilitate coastal tourism activities, support investors, including small and medium enterprises, and contribute to creating job opportunities.
Saudi Arabia announced the official opening of the Red Sea destination in October 2023, welcoming visitors from all over the world. The destination includes the fourth largest thriving coral reef in the world, and extends over an area of more than 28,000 square kilometers on the western coast of Saudi Arabia.
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Saudi Arabia Executes 170 People In 2023
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Saudi Arabia executed 170 people in 2023, including four on New Year's Eve -- an increase on the previous year, according to an AFP tally based on announcements by Saudi authorities.
A total of 147 convicts were executed in 2022 in the Gulf state, routinely criticised by human rights activists who condemn its prolific use of capital punishment.
A record of 187 executions took place in the kingdom in 2019.
The four people executed on Sunday had been convicted of murder, the official Saudi Press Agency reported, citing statements from the interior ministry.
They included two in the north-western city of Tabuk, one in the capital Riyadh and one in Jazan in the south-west.
Those executed over the course of 2023 included 33 people accused of terrorism-related crimes and two soldiers convicted of treason.
There were 38 executions in December, the deadliest month.
In 2022, Saudi Arabia executed more people than any other country besides China and Iran, Amnesty International has said.
The kingdom, notorious for beheadings, drew a wave of condemnation from around the world when it executed 81 people in a single day in March 2022.
The authorities deem the executions to be compatible with sharia law, the Islamic law code based on the teachings of the Koran, and necessary to "maintain public order".
De facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is seeking to transform the world's biggest crude oil exporter into a business and tourism hub.
Yet activists say the kingdom's continued embrace of capital punishment undermines the image of a more open, tolerant society that is central to Prince Mohammed's Vision 2030 reform agenda.
Saudi Arabia executed 170 people in 2023, including four on New Year's Eve -- an increase on the previous year, according to an AFP tally based on announcements by Saudi authorities.
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