Leaders from across the global tourism sector are set to unite in Riyadh for this year's UNWTO World Tourism Day (WTD), which will be celebrated on 27-28 September, under the theme of "Tourism and Green Investments".
Riyadh hosted the event for the first time in 2019.
Marking the most significant assembly of global tourism leaders in the 43-year history of World Tourism Day, gauged by global ministers, industry leaders, and experts in attendance, WTD 2023 will examine the role of investment in people and the planet to secure livelihoods and foster mutual understanding, while exploring opportunities to extend the reach of the industry's economic and social impact to more people around the world, safeguarding prosperity for all.
Hosting this gathering aims to boost Saudi Arabia's position on the map of international events in general, and tourism in particular, as one of the fastest-growing destinations among the G20 countries, and the second fastest-growing country worldwide. The Kingdom is also the chair of the World Tourism Organization for 2023, and the host of its headquarters in the Middle East.
Event participants will also attend a gala dinner in Riyadh's UNESCO Heritage site, Diriyah, to celebrate World Tourism Day.
Saudi Minister of Tourism Ahmed Al-Khateeb said hosting this significant global gathering reinforces the status of Saudi Arabia and its pioneering role in restructuring the future of global tourism.
He added that it also confirms the success of Riyadh in becoming a regional hub for the organization, as well as the Kingdom’s initiatives and achievements during the past four years.
“This World Tourism Day, we focus on the vital need to invest in building a more sustainable sector for people, planet, and prosperity,” said Zurab Pololikashvili, Secretary-General of the UNWTO.
“The day also makes clear why UNWTO underscores the need for investment in education and for greater innovation as the foundations for long-term growth and transformation. This year's official celebration in Saudi Arabia reflects how tourism is being embraced to diversify economies and generate opportunities for all,” Pololikashvili added.
The global tourism sector is forecast to reach $9.5 trillion in GDP contribution in 2023, according to the WTTC. This is in line with UNWTO's forecast that tourism remains well on track to reach 80% to 90% of pre-pandemic levels this year and is widely expected to exceed 2019 levels in 2024.
The global impact of tourism is growing in bridging cultures and providing business and employment opportunities.