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  • More than 500 government officials, industry leaders and experts from across 120 countries are set to descend on Riyadh for the event, making this year's celebration the biggest and most impactful World Tourism Day in its 43-year history.
  • Speakers include His Excellency Ahmed Al-Khateeb, Minister of Tourism of Saudi Arabia; Zurab Pololikashvili, Secretary-General of the United Nations World Tourism Organization; Her Excellency Rosa Ana Morillo Rodriguez, Secretary of State, Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism of Spain; Patricia de Lille, Minister of Tourism of South Africa; Julia Simpson, CEO of the World Travel & Tourism Council and Matthew Upchurch, CEO of Virtuoso  
  • Breadth of high-level attendees demonstrates significance of World Tourism Day 2023, hosted in Riyadh, to charting the future of the global tourism sector's growth.

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia, Sept. 23, 2023 /PRNewswire/ -- Details of the speaker lineup have been revealed for this year's World Tourism Day (WTD), to be held in Riyadh from 27th – 28th September. With more than 500 government officials, industry leaders and experts from across 120 countries set to descend on Riyadh for the event, the level of attendance demonstrates the significance of WTD 2023 in charting the future of the global tourism sector's growth.


The breadth of high-level speakers showcases the collective impetus across industry to celebrate the sector's successes while exploring solutions to its most pressing challenges. Speakers announced today include:

  • His Excellency  Ahmed Al-Khateeb, Minister of Tourism of Saudi Arabia
  • Zurab Pololikashvili, Secretary-General of the United Nations World Tourism Organization
  • His Excellency  Khalid Al Falih, Minister of Investment of Saudi Arabia
  • Her Highness Princess Haifa  Bint Mohammed Al Saud, Vice Minister of Tourism
  • Her Excellency Patricia de  Lille, Minister of Tourism of South Africa
  • Her Excellency  Nikolina Brnjac, Minister of Tourism and Sports of the Republic of Croatia
  • His Excellency  Mehmet Ersoy, Minister of Culture and Tourism of Turkey
  • Her Excellency Rosa Ana  Morillo Rodriguez, Secretary of State, Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism of Spain
  • Julia Simpson, CEO of the World Travel & Tourism Council
  • Pansy Ho, Secretary General of the Global Tourism Economy Forum
  • Captain  Ibrahim Koshy, the CEO of Saudi Arabian Airlines (SAUDIA)
  • Pierfrancesco Vago, CEO of MSC Cruises
  • Greg Webb, CEO of  Travelport
  • Matthew  Upchurch, CEO of Virtuoso
  • Ritesh Agarwal, CEO of OYO

António Guterres, UN Secretary General, said: "Tourism is a powerful force for progress and mutual understanding. But in order to deliver its full benefits, this force must be protected and nurtured. On this World Tourism Day, we recognize the vital need for green investments to build a tourism sector that delivers for people and planet. So let us all do more to harness the full potential of sustainable tourism. Because investing in sustainable tourism is investing in a better future for all."  

WTD 2023 will be held under the theme "Tourism and Green Investments" with the aim of fostering global collaboration to examine investment opportunities to strengthen resilience of the tourism industry, steering the sector towards an investment-led and sustainably focused future. The two-day event will see tourism leaders participate in keynote speeches and panel discussions centered around three UNWTO core themes: people, planet and prosperity. Participants will explore the power of tourism and the sector's role in bridging cultures, preserving the environment, and promoting a more harmonious and interconnected world.

The first day will explore the UNWTO theme of 'Tourism and Green Investments' through panels ranging from the power of tourism in building bridges; investing in human capabilities; the potential of less-traversed tourism destinations; challenges and solutions in achieving a sustainable future; to bridging the innovation gap and powering entrepreneurship. On the evening of the first day, a gala dinner will be hosted in Saudi Arabia's UNESCO heritage site Diriyah, as a celebration of WTD 2023.

The Tourism Leaders Forum will be held on the second day under the theme 'Tourism for People, Prosperity and Intercultural Dialogue'. A public sector session will examine the sustainable future for the industry, while a private sector session will explore seamless end-to-end travel. A WTD 2024 handover session will also be conducted between Saudi Arabia and Georgia, ahead of Georgia's hosting of the event next year.

The scale of the event being hosted in Riyadh showcases the importance attached by the Saudi government to the development of the global tourism sector. 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.                  

According to the recent UNWTO Barometer Report, the Middle East reported the best results in January-July 2023, with arrivals 20% above pre-pandemic levels. The region continues to be the only to exceed 2019 levels so far, with Saudi witnessing extraordinary double-digit growth at (+58%).

About The Ministry of Tourism
Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Tourism was founded in 2020, following the opening of Saudi Arabia to international tourists in 2019. The Ministry spearheads the Kingdom's Vision to bring Saudi tourism to the forefront. Its endeavors align with the Kingdom's ambitious goals, aiming to create 1 million jobs for its citizens, enable accelerated and sustainable growth with future-focused policies, investments, and talent development guided by data, receive   100 million tourism visits by 2030, and amplify the sector's GDP contribution from 3% to 10%. In doing so, the Ministry of Tourism issues licenses and classifications for tourism activities and creates and approves tourist visa regulations.

The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) is the United Nations specialized agency for fostering tourism as a vehicle for equal, inclusive and sustainable development. Working with its Member States, international organizations and the private sector, UNWTO promotes safe and seamless travel for all. UNWTO also works to make tourism the foundation of trust and international cooperation and a central pillar of growth and opportunity. As part of the wider UN system, UNWTO is at the forefront of global efforts to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, including through its ability to create decent jobs, promote equality and preserve natural and cultural heritage.

World Tourism Day Celebrations | UNWTO

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