Saudi Tourism Minister at UN Sustainability Week Opening in NY

Saudi tourism minister - image courtesy of SPA
image courtesy of SPA
Written by Linda Hohnholz

Saudi Arabia Minister of Tourism and Chairman of the Executive Council of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), Ahmed bin Aqeel Al-Khateeb, led a Saudi delegation participating in the UN General Assembly (UNGA) Sustainability Week held at UN headquarters in New York City.

During the opening session, the minister highlighted the Kingdom’s efforts over the past two years, serving as the Chair of the Executive Council of the UNWTO, to enhance the representation of the travel and tourism sector in international forums. Al-Khateeb also indicated that this support has contributed to launching initiatives in collaboration with Saudi Arabia, such as the Best Tourism Villages award, the Tourism Open Minds initiative, and the formation of a team to redesign the future of tourism. Moreover, he noted that Saudi Arabia’s efforts have led to the inclusion of the tourism sector in the agenda of the UNGA Sustainability Week.

He emphasized that under the leadership of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, and HRH Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, Crown Prince, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the Kingdom has become one of the most promising and attractive tourist destinations globally. He noted that the Kingdom topped the UNWTO’s list of major tourist destinations in terms of international tourist growth in 2023, and it also led the G20 countries in international tourist numbers. The minister added that Saudi Arabia successfully welcomed over 27 million international tourists in 2023, highlighting ongoing efforts to develop plans and strategies to host more than 70 million international tourists by 2030.

He reiterated the Kingdom’s commitment to sustainable development in the tourism sector, focusing on implementing sustainable tourism projects that ensure a positive impact on climate, environment, and local communities, such as the NEOM and Red Sea projects. He said:

He also expressed satisfaction with the ongoing cooperation in this regard with the former Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Patricia Espinosa. Al-Khateeb also highlighted the Kingdom’s significant efforts to address the environmental impacts of the travel and tourism sector. These efforts, he said, contributed to the issuance of the World Travel and Tourism Council and the Sustainable Tourism Global Center, supported by the Kingdom, presenting the latest findings on the environmental impacts of the travel and tourism sector. For the first time in the tourism sector’s history, the carbon emissions contribution of travel and tourism was measured globally, accounting for approximately 8% of emissions worldwide, he stated. Additionally, Al-Khateeb stated that by 2030, the Kingdom aims to achieve specific national contributions to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by more than 278 million tons annually, protect 30% of the Kingdom’s land and marine areas, and plant more than 600 million trees.

In conclusion, the minister expressed the Kingdom’s hope for global collaboration and openness to cooperation to achieve targeted sustainable development in the global travel and tourism sector. He also hoped that the Kingdom’s message would resonate globally through this important event, aiming to preserve the environment and lead and support the transformation of tourism into an environmentally friendly and community-supporting industry.

UNGA President Dennis Francis and UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili also attended the event.


About the author

Linda Hohnholz

Editor in chief for eTurboNews based in the eTN HQ.

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