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 from 27th – 28th September. Through a range of impactful events, global ministers, industry leaders and experts will highlight the power of tourism and explore avenues for collaboration to foster growth of the sector, placing people, the planet and prosperity front and center of proceedings.
Under the theme of “Tourism and Green Investments”, WTD 2023 will examine the role of investment in people and 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.
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 95% of pre-pandemic levels this year and is widely expected to exceed 2019 levels in 2024. As one of the biggest economic drivers of the global economy, the sector is responsible for a wealth of business and employment opportunities, while also playing a key role in bridging cultures, connecting people and enhancing mutual understanding. Reflective of the sector’s potential as a key driver for change, three themes will guide proceedings of the event: mutual understanding, economic sustainability, and social prosperity.
His Excellency Ahmed Al-Khateeb, Minister of Tourism of Saudi Arabia, said:
“We have a historic opportunity to chart a new course for the global tourism sector, centered on sustainable development, job creation, and economic resilience. Tourism – as a catalyst for change – fosters mutual understanding, builds bridges and safeguards cultural heritage and environmental conservation, contributing to a more harmonious world.
“World Tourism Day 2023 is an important platform for the world to celebrate the sector’s successes and explore solutions to its challenges. Saudi Arabia is honored to host this esteemed occasion and we look forward to welcoming tourism leaders from the public and private sectors to Riyadh.”
Additionally, Mr. Zurab Pololikashvili, Secretary-General of the UNWTO, added:
“This World Tourism Day, we focus on the vital need to invest in building a more sustainable sector for people, planet and prosperity. 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.”
By hosting this event four years after it first opened to global tourists in 2019, Saudi Arabia demonstrates its commitment as a dedicated tourism sector convenor that aims to showcase its progress in connecting Saudis to the world, building bridges between cultures, nurturing hospitality talent and creating investment opportunities for the international community.
Marking the most significant assembly of global tourism leaders in the 43-year history of World Tourism Day, gauged by the number of ministers in attendance, WTD 2023 will feature a series of engaging sessions, panel discussions, and workshops led by renowned sector experts and government leaders. Event participants will also attend a gala dinner in Riyadh’s UNESCO Heritage site, Diriyah, to celebrate World Tourism Day and its global significance.
The scale of the event being hosted in Riyadh showcases the importance attached by the Saudi Arabian government to the development of the global tourism sector, and follows the Kingdom’s election to Chair of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) for 2023.
The event in Riyadh for the UNWTO WTD 2023 on 27 and 28 September showcases the capital’s growth as a hub for major business events and promises to be a major milestone in the global tourism calendar, offering valuable insights and inspiring discussions on the role of tourism to bridge cultures and foster mutual understanding.
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.