More than 500 government officials, industry leaders, and experts from 120 countries are set to attend the World Tourism Day (WTD), which will be held in Riyadh for the first time.
According to the recent UNWTO Barometer Report, the Middle East reported the best results in January 2023, with arrivals 20 percent above pre-pandemic levels.
The region continues to be the only one to exceed 2019 levels, with Saudi witnessing extraordinary growth exceeding 58 percent.
The organizing committee for the WTD announced on Sunday that the exceptional participation reflects the significance of this occasion.
- Green investment
WTD 2023, on September 27 and 28, will be held under the theme "Tourism and Green Investments."
The event aims to foster global collaboration to examine investment opportunities and strengthen the resilience of the tourism industry, steering the sector towards an investment-led and sustainably focused future.
On the evening of the first day, a gala dinner will be hosted in Saudi Arabia's UNESCO heritage site, Diriyah, to celebrate WTD 2023.
A WTD 2024 handover session will be conducted between Saudi Arabia and Georgia ahead of Tbilisi's hosting of the event next year.
Hosting this significant event in the heart of Riyadh bolsters the city's global standing and leadership across various sectors, including the international tourism industry.
The UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, stated on World Tourism Day: "We recognize the vital need for green investments to build a tourism sector that delivers for people and planet. Governments and businesses must invest in sustainable and resilient tourism practices."
- Participating officials
The Kingdom was elected Chair of the Executive Council of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) for 2023 and hosted the World Travel and Tourism Council's Global Summit in Riyadh last year.
Riyadh also houses the regional office of the World Tourism Organization in the Middle East.
WTD2023 will have a high-level speaker line-up, showcasing the collective movement across the industry to celebrate the sector's successes while exploring solutions to its most pressing challenges.
Key speakers include, among others, Saudi Tourism Minister Ahmed al-Khateeb, Investment Minister Khalid al-Falih, WTO Sec-Gen Zurab Pololikashvili, and South Africa's Tourism Minister Patricia de Lille.
Notably, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz recently discussed developments in the Saudi tourism sector during a TV interview with Fox News, revealing that the sector's contribution to the GDP has increased from three to seven percent.