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The Three Most Powerful People for World Tourism are all in Riyad

Tourism’s growth raises challenges, Tourism Industry Association of Canada told

Ahmed bin Aqil al-Khatee, Muhammad bin Saud bin Khalid, Gloria Guevara, are the new global movers and shakers for world tourism.

Gloria Guevara held the post of Secretary of Tourism in her home country, Mexico, from March 10, 2010, to November 30, 2012.

Her eduction included Northwestern University, Kellogg School of Management, and Universidad Anáhuac Mexico North Campus.

In August 2017, Gloria joined the World Travel and Tourism Council in London as its CEO and president. WTTC claims to represent the largest companies in the world of tourism.

To everyone’s surprise, Gloria received an offer she could not refuse in May 2021. Right after she set the trend in the midst of the COVID-19 lockdowns in pulling off the first global Summit for WTTC in Cancun, Mexico, she packed her bags. She moved to Riad, Saudi Arabia, to become the special advisor to Saudi Arabia’s minister of tourism.

Guevara was seen as the most powerful woman in world tourism when she moved, and she may be even more powerful now. To be hired by His Excellency Ahmed Al Khateeb was a statement that the Kingdom wanting to become a more transparent society.

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For the most powerful woman to work for the wealthiest minister of tourism in the world and in a country where equality for women, human rights, including the criminalization of LGBTQ are seen by the west as a dark reality, is a statement of change on the horizon.

This Saudi tourism dream team of HE Ahmed Al Khateeb, Gloria Guevara, recently added another woman as the Deputy Minister of Tourism, Muhammad bin Saud bin Khalid Al abdulrahman Al Saud.

The last 15 months since Guevara gave up her job at WTTC have been a rollercoaster ride for Saudi Arabia.

Saudi is now the host of a regional UNWTO center. It formed a task force effectively shaping the direction of the World Tourism Organization. Saudi Arabia opened an office for WTTC, giving it influence over the largest private sector in travel. The Kingdom is now the center and magnet for global tourism without argument.

This was before the country had a first-hand experience with western tourism.

Money surely talks, and it makes many speechless. This silence of criticism is needed for Saudi Arabia to show the world what it is all about and how the Kingdom wants to be seen. This is exciting, scary, but also a fantastic opportunity, specifically when the tourism sector goes through a transition accepting COVID as a way to live and no longer a threat.

A lot of excitement is coming from Saudi Arabia.

After residing in Riyadh for more than a year, Gloria remains convinced and is proud to be associated with the tourism development in Saudi Arabia, and her boss , HE Ahmed bin Aqil al-Khatee.

As shown in a photo with the Jamaica Minister Hon. Edmund Bartlett from Jamaica, also the Saudi Minister feels like dancing, and both ministers love their job.

Saudi Arabia is moving fast these days. Even US President Biden did not know if he should shake hands with Saudi Arabia’s Crown prince a month ago, but money is power in times of global financial uncertainty.

An honest attempt for tourism to fix perception is a good move. Time will show how this will eventually works out. Saudi Arabia is jumping over its shadow with tourism in the driver seat.

When tourism can open up for Israel and Saudi Arabia to cooperate in tourism and aviation, there is no limit what a trillion dollar strong Saudi Arabia economy could do in the world.

Since Gloria got to the Kingdom the world is knocking on her door- constantly.

Her post on Twitter today summarizes 10 points of the achievements in her own words and how she would want the world to see her new home.


  1. More than 1 Trillion US-Dollar of investments are planned by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for Tourism. This equals the GDP of Mexico.
  2. The Government of Saudi Arabia is investing Millions of Dollars in education.
  3. Two third of the Saudi population is younger than 35 years. The Government, therefore, has invested in youth empowerment and involvement in the transformation.
  4. The Saudi government invests resources to support and accelerate Women’s development from education to jobs, including equal pay for equal work quotas.
  5. Saudi Arabia claims it has zero corruption with the highest standards for RFPs and spending.
  6. The government focuses on having the best and highest private sector standards. It is summarized as vIsion, multiyear and annual business plans, SMART goals, clear KPIs, and monthly performance reviews and reporting. There is clear accountability and execution.
  7. The Government developed a strong partnership and support for the local and the international private sector. The focus is on training, funding, incentives, all a one-stop shop, an easy-to-do business model.
  8. Quality of life, job creation, and innovation are at the center of transformation with well-defined programs and owners.
  9. The strong diversification strategy, supported at the highest level in the tourism sector, aims to represent 10% of the kingdom’s GDP.
  10. Sustainability and Green initiatives are the top priority in all areas. Billions of new trees have been planted, and the global center to support Travel and Tourism Transition to net zero is hosted in Saudi Arabia.

Gloria’s twitter post clearly shows how proud this woman that has been working on global platform is to be associated with Saudi Arabia.

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About the author

Juergen T Steinmetz

Juergen Thomas Steinmetz has continuously worked in the travel and tourism industry since he was a teenager in Germany (1977).
He founded eTurboNews in 1999 as the first online newsletter for the global travel tourism industry.

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