UNWTO has pledged to serve as a bridge between public and private leaders as tourism sector faces up to challenges including high inflation, geopolitical insecurity and the climate emergency, at the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) Global Summit in Riyadh.

During the WTTC Global Summit, held in the Saudi capital, UNWTO stressed the vital importance of education and investments as twin factors in ensuring tourism fulfils its enormous potential as a driver of sustainable and inclusive development.

The high-level participation of UNWTO in this leading private sector forum further highlighted the Organisation’s unique and natural ability to connect political ambitions and private sector capacity.

Education: An investment in tourism’s future

Speaking before the Summit’s two main events, the Global Leaders’ Dialogue and the Summit’s Opening Panel, UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili said: “This year, we brought tourism to the UN General Assembly for the first time and we have also put tourism on the G20 agenda. That is why I am here: UNWTO can be your voice at the global governance level.”

Carrying forward the momentum of key events held during 2022, including World Tourism Day in Bali, the Ministers’ Summit in London and, most recently, the UNWTO Executive Council meeting in Marrakesh, the WTTC Summit provided the latest high-level platform for UNWTO to advance its priorities of growing
investments in tourism and promoting tourism education and training. As Pololikashvili explained to participants skills development is “an investment in the future, to build the tourism sector we need.”

A vision for tourism in cooperation with Saudi Arabia

Against the backdrop of the WTTC Summit, UNWTO invited all high-level delegates to return to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 2023 for the official World Tourism Day celebrations (27 September), to be held around the theme of ‘Green Investments’. The hosting of the international day for the sector will further advance the Kingdom’s ambition to become a top emerging destination.

The Kingdom is a strong supporter of UNWTO’s mission to make tourism a driver of sustainable and inclusive development. UNWTO opened its first Regional Office for the Middle East in May 2021 in Riyadh. Built in record time and during a pandemic, the office is set to be the regional and global hub of tourism education and training as well as of tourism for rural development.

It also helps coordinating policy and initiatives across its 13 Member States in the region as well as promotes various initiative. This includes a number of tourism projects and products, among them the new “Best Tourism Villages by UNWTO”, launched on the occasion of the opening of the Regional Office last year. Alongside this, Riyadh will also be home to an expanded UNWTO International Tourism Academy, providing opportunities for people of all backgrounds from across the region, including women and youth.

When opening the new office, Pololikashvili said: “The UNWTO Regional Office is a centre of conversation, debate and decision-making and bring hope to many people across the region allowing them to enjoy the social and economic benefits only tourism can deliver. Work on the office began after the start of the pandemic, proof of our determination and the strong support of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.”

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