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WTTC chief gives a thumbs up to Saudi Arabia’s tourism plans

Over 3000 participants and industry leaders met at the World Travel and Tourism Council Global Summit in Riyadh

WTTC chief gives a thumbs up to Saudi Arabia’s tourism plans
[Source photo: Anvita Gupta/Fast Company Middle East]

Saudi Arabia’s aim to be among the top five tourism destinations in the world within the next ten years has been dubbed “unparalleled” by the World Tourism and Travel Council (WTTC) leaders.

“These are ambitions that are unparalleled in the history of our sector. Over the past three years, it has been a great privilege to see the progress made here with our own eyes,” said Arnold Donald, Chair, WTTC & Vice Chair of the Board, Carnival Corporation, at the 22nd edition of the annual summit held in Riyadh.

Welcoming the leaders of the tourism world to Riyadh, Ahmed Al-Khateeb, Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Tourism, said, “We have the power to shape the sector, bridge cultures, and transform communities. We are fortunate to be in the position to effect change. We must not let this opportunity pass by us.”

Saudi Arabia is offering investment opportunities worth $6 trillion in the travel and tourism sector through to 2030.

Leaders of the worldwide tourism sector participated in panel discussions and exchanged innovative ideas. 

Former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon was in a discussion about the sustainable future of travel. “Tourism has made a substantial contribution to humanity’s social and economic progress. Whether you belong to Saudi Arabia, China, the US, or South Korea – there are no boundaries,” he said.

Focusing on developmental areas to ensure the successful future of tourism, Stephen Scherr, CEO at Hertz Corporation, said, “You need infrastructure in the various markets and countries. Whether it’s an airport that can handle the kind of traffic that you will have or in our business, you need to build infrastructure that is accommodating and inviting for the people you want to be traveling around.”

On the sidelines of the summit, there have also been a number of significant announcements and MOU signings, including Wizz Air appointing Arjaa Travel and Tourism Company as the exclusive representative for Wizz Air in Saudi Arabia and Saudi Arabia signing MOUs with Oman, Indonesia, and Barbados.

As part of the summit, Saudi Tourism Minister Ahmed Al-Khateeb also inaugurated the historical district of Diriyah which will reopen to visitors next month after being closed for more than a decade for renovations.

The At-Turaif Unesco World Heritage Site, which dates back thousands of years, is frequently referred to as Saudi Arabia’s birthplace. Visitors will be able to travel back in time starting on Dec 4 by exploring the region’s reconstructed mud-brick castles and structures.

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