Saudi Arabia’s Minister for Tourism, HE Ahmed Al-Khateeb, recently announced that the establishment of the UNWTO Regional Office for the Middle East in Riyadh has been approved by UNWTO Executive Council members.
This announcement was made in a statement at the 112th session of the UNWTO Executive Council, hosted in Georgia, Tbilisi.
The newly formed UNWTO Regional Office will serve as a hub for the UNWTO for 13 countries in the Middle East. Its focus will be on establishing long-term growth and human capital development in the travel and tourism sector in the region. The office will comprise a dedicated Statistics Center, which will aim to become the leading authority on tourism statistics for the region.
In his statement, HE Al-Khateeb said: “International cooperation and the role of the UNWTO are more important than ever. I am therefore very excited that Saudi Arabia will become home to the first ever UNWTO Regional Office, which aims to support growth at a national and regional level.”
He continued: “We hope this will provide a model for future collaborations around the world. Tourism not only boosts economies; it also builds bridges between cultures and enriches lives. It is one of the only sectors that is able to drive such tangible transformative change, on so many levels.”
This exciting development is a result of a long-standing alliance between the Saudi Ministry of Tourism and the UNWTO, who have joined hands during the pandemic to create recovery strategies for the travel and tourism sector.
HE Al-Khateeb concluded: “In Saudi Arabia, we are very aware of the transformative power of tourism on the economy and people. We may still be a young destination, but tourism is at the forefront of Saudi Arabia’s vision for the future.”