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The Saudi Minister of Tourism just hired the most Powerful Woman in Tourism, Gloria Guevara

The Saudi Minister of Tourism just hired  the most Powerful Woman in Tourism, Gloria Guevara
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Written by Dmytro Makarov

Most of the world is struggling to keep tourism in business, while Saudi Arabia is investing hundreds of millions to position the Kingdom as a global center in this sector. Hiring the most powerful woman in tourism, the WTTC CEO Gloria Guevara as an advisor to the minister shows the country is serious, and intentions are clear.

  1. Gloria Guevara was the minister of tourism in Mexico, became the CEO of the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), and will now move to Saudi Arabia to advise the kingdom’s minister of tourism, HE Ahmed Al Khateeb.
  2. Saudi Arabia is in need of a correction in human rights perception, equality, and openness, and hiring Ms. Guevara may indicate a willingness to learn and to change.
  3. Saudi Arabia is becoming a center of world tourism with regional offices by UNWTO, WTTC, the Global Resilience and Crisis Center, and others most likely to follow.

World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) CEO Gloria Guevara just concluded the first global summit during the COVID pandemic in her home country, Mexico, in Cancun. Saudi Arabia played a major role in this summit bringing a large delegation including the minister of tourism of the Kingdom, His Excellency Ahmed Al Khateeb.

The minister was treated more like a VIP. He received numerous recognitions from the WTTC CEO. Now Gloria Guevara is getting her award from the Saudi minister.

Cancun was the place rumors started about Guevara contemplating leaving her role as the most powerful woman in tourism as CEO of WTTC to become an advisor of the minister of Saudi Arabia. Gloria at the time told eTurboNews:

Rumors – not sure the source – But just rumors!

Rumors, however, became a reality when the Saudi minister of tourism welcomed her to his team yesterday.

Congratulations are coming in. The first CEO of the World Travel and Tourism Council told eTurboNews today:

“Another brilliant role for my friend Gloria Guevara…. Not only the first female president of WTTC but the highest post in what is emerging as the star tourism destination of the 21st century. And what a great vision from Saudi Arabia. Looking forward to continuing our strong relationship to advance climate friendly travel with Saudi Arabia as a new driver of global action,” said Professor Geoffrey Lipman, president, SUNx Malta

Cuthbert Ncube, Chairman of the African Tourism Board, said: “Wow, that’s awesome. The African Tourism Board is looking forward to working with Gloria and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia plays an important role in global tourism and the travel and tourism world throughout Africa.”

Juergen Steinmetz, chairman, and founder of the World Tourism Network, added: “It didn’t come as a surprise judging from what I witnessed in Cancun. On behalf of the World Tourism Network, I would like to congratulate Gloria Guevara on her new important assignment. Our WTN chapter and interest group in Saudi Arabia under the leadership of HRH Dr. Abdulaziz Bin Naser Al Saud and Mr. Raed Habbis has been active ever since we started our discussion on rebuilding.travel.

“For Saudi Arabia to appoint Ms. Guevara as an advisor to the minister shows the intention of the kingdom to secure its new global role as a tourism trendsetter and leader. It also demonstrates the intention of the kingdom for tolerance, equality, and leadership.

“Saudi Arabia made tourist visas for non-Muslims a reality before COVID-19 broke out. Now it will become the first time the kingdom can actually welcome international tourists. Going through the pandemic, Saudi Arabia spent hundreds of millions to build infrastructure and to get ready for visitors. Saudi Arabia has a clear vision, and the opportunity for our friend Gloria to play a role in making this vision a reality is fantastic. Congratulations.”

Gloria’s own humbled words summarize everything: “Saudí wants to help the recovery globally and asked me to help with that. The press release is clear.

This is the original press release:

Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Tourism announces the appointment of Gloria Guevera Manzo, most recently CEO of the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), to the position of Chief Special Advisor.

The Saudi Minister of Tourism just hired  the most Powerful Woman in Tourism, Gloria Guevara
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As a special advisor to the Minister of Tourism, Gloria will draw on more than 25 years of public and private tourism sector experience to help facilitate international collaborations, develop human capital and contribute to the delivery of the Kingdom’s ambitious, large-scale tourism investments under Vision 2030.

His Excellency Ahmed Al Khateeb welcomed the appointment, saying: “Saudi Arabia’s tourism industry has incredible potential and is already supporting economic growth and job creation across the Kingdom, in line with Vision 2030 and the leadership of HM King Salman and HRH the Crown Prince.

“We have a strong national heritage and thousands of unique stories to be told. Gloria brings international expertise and a tremendous global network from her time representing the global tourism and travel sector as the CEO of WTTC and direct experience with evolving a nascent tourism industry from her time as Secretary of Tourism in Mexico, that will help us as our large-scale investment in tourism moves to the next level.”

Gloria Guevara Manzo said: “I want to be part of the transformation and make the vision of Saudi Arabia as a leading tourism destination a reality. Tourism is the most promising sector in Saudi Arabia; this has been evident since 2019 when the Kingdom first opened for international visitors and became the fastest growing and best performer in Travel and Tourism on a global scale*.

“In 2020, the Saudi leadership has done an incredible job managing the COVID-19 crisis and building its domestic tourism while continuing to advocate for global industry alignment and the recovery, and I am confident that my many years of expertise can help accelerate the next phase of development,” she continued.

“Over 50% of the global travel and tourism workforce is female and Saudi Arabia is rapidly scaling up the inclusion of women, so I also hope my appointment will serve to empower more Saudi women to pursue careers in tourism, aspire towards leadership positions, and fulfil Vision 2030’s female empowerment goals,” Gloria added.

Saudi Arabia has achieved accelerated progress in a nascent industry; taking a leading role in the revival of the tourism sector after COVID-19 through its G20 presidency, which achieved a joint pledge from participating nations to collaborate on developing sustainable, authentic tourism experiences; issuing more than 400,000 tourism visas in the first six months since the launch of its new tourist visa system in September 2019 and launching a SAR400 billion tourism fund and a SAR2 billion Tourism Partners program.

The Ministry of Tourism is spearheading the sector’s development towards the Vision 2030 goals of increasing tourism’s contribution to GDP from 3% to more than 10%, creating an additional one million jobs for Saudi nationals and increasing visitor numbers to 100 million by 2030.

Ministry of Tourism of Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of tourism leads the Saudi Tourism ecosystem, with support from the Saudi Tourism Authority and the Tourism Development Fund.

The Ministry sets the Kingdom’s tourism sector strategy and is responsible for the development of policies and regulations, developing human capital, gathering statistics, and attracting investment.  It works in partnership with the Saudi Tourism Authority, which promotes Saudi Arabia as a global tourism destination, and the Tourism Development Fund, which executes the Ministry’s investment strategy by providing funding for the sector’s development.

Headed by His Excellency Ahmed Al Khateeb, the Ministry was founded in February 2020, following the opening of Saudi Arabia to international leisure tourists for the first time in its history in 2019. Saudi Arabia aims to welcome 100 million tourism visits by 2030, increasing the sector’s contribution to GDP from 3% to 10%.

About Gloria Guevara Manzo

Gloria Guevara Manzo is one of the most influential women in tourism. She served as CEO of the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) from August 2017 to April 2021, representing the interests of the global Travel & Tourism private sector and leading government and industry coordination and collaboration to produce the best policies and initiatives for job creation, poverty reduction and financial returns for destinations and countries. Gloria served as Secretary of Tourism for Mexico from March 2010 to November 2012, leading Mexico’s tourism sector through a threefold crisis of H1N1, the financial crisis and security issues, transforming a struggling industry to a booming sector bringing in 200m travelers from over 150 countries and creating thousands of jobs.