Historic Saudi Moment When Tourism Minister Chairs UNWTO Executive Council

image courtesy of SPA
image courtesy of SPA
Written by Linda Hohnholz

Minister of Tourism and Chairman of the Executive Council of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) Ahmed bin Aqeel Al-Khateeb chaired the 121st Executive Council meeting of the UNWTO, held in Barcelona, Spain, on June 10 and 11, with the participation of tourism ministers from around the world.

Al-Khateeb’s chairmanship of the current session underscores the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia‘s leading role and influence in the global tourism sector, following significant successes in recent times. In his speech during the opening session, the minister stated, “Presiding over the 121st Executive Council meeting of the United Nations World Tourism Organization was a historic moment for us, as it united world leaders to confront pressing challenges in tourism and to drive tangible progress in all aspects of the global tourism sector. This gathering confirmed our collective vision of the continued prosperity of the international tourism sector, stressing the need for innovative models to sustain the sector, create investment opportunities, and continue strategic partnerships.”

The discussions focused on analyzing international tourism trends, implementing the general work program and regulatory reforms, discussing financial growth strategies for the international tourism sector, and the importance of investing in human resource development to maintain global competitiveness. With global travel destinations on the rise, the tourism sector is expected to contribute up to $16 trillion to the global GDP by 2034.

On the sidelines of the event, Al-Khateeb hosted a roundtable meeting with senior executives in the private tourism sector in Spain. He showcased the attractive investment opportunities in the Kingdom under the Investment Enablers Program in the tourism sector and the Investment Enablers Initiative in the hospitality sector. He also highlighted the diversity of tourism destinations in the Kingdom and Saudi Arabia’s plans to enhance air connectivity between Spain and Saudi Arabia, as well as Europe.

Participants in the roundtable included senior executives from leading global, European, and Spanish hotel chains, as well as operators of several tourism facilities in the Kingdom, alongside organizations looking to expand their presence in the Kingdom, amidst significant developments in the tourism sector under the Saudi Vision 2030. The roundtable discussions coincide with an increase in the number of Spanish visitors to Saudi Arabia in 2023, with the Kingdom receiving over 40,000 Spanish tourists, marking a 6% increase from 2022.

This growth is attributed to the Kingdom’s launch of the visit e-visa, as part of its efforts to provide opportunities for tourists and visitors from 66 countries to explore the Kingdom’s vast tourism destinations and potential. These steps are part of its endeavors to increase the number of inbound tourists to 70 million by 2030.

About the author

Linda Hohnholz

Editor in chief for eTurboNews based in the eTN HQ.

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