Riyadh, SPA -- Secretary-General of UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) Zurab Pololikashvili, and Minister of Tourism Ahmed Al-Khateeb on Wednesday inaugurated the first regional office of UNWTO in Riyadh.
The new office will be a center for UNWTO to coordinate policies and initiatives across 13 countries in the Middle East; to serve as a central forum to support tourism initiatives in the region and achieve long-term growth for the sector.
The office will lead the work of UNWTO in various parts of the region and contribute to promoting tourism products, sustainable development, and collecting important statistics for the sector, in response to the need for local initiatives to drive change. The office will stimulate investment in tourism assets and lead regional cooperation in exchanging data and health policy.
At the outset of the ceremony, Minister of Tourism Ahmed Al-Khateeb said that "We are happy to host the office in Saudi Arabia, and this comes within the framework of our commitment to work with our partners in UNWTO to develop a strong industry based on the principles of sustainability and opportunities for all."
For his Part, Zurab Pololikashvili affirmed that the launch of the first regional office of UNWTO is a high-profile event and represents a new direction for coordinating global tourism through regional cooperation. He added that regional consensus is the key to unlock the tremendous tourism elements in the Middle East and creating social, economic and environmental flexibility for the sector and its individuals.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, represented by the Ministry of Tourism, hosts UNWTO regional office and support it as part of a long-term cooperation between the Ministry and UNWTO. Saudi Arabia and the organization together played a leading role during the global pandemic of COVID-19 to formulate recovery strategies for the travel and tourism sector, while this new initiative contributes to fulfilling the commitments made by Saudi Arabia during its presidency of the G20.
One of the new office's first initiatives is the development of an international tourism academy dedicated to supporting the aspirations of the new generation of tourism leaders.
As a first step to activating and developing the academy, the Ministry of Tourism has signed an agreement aimed at using the Tourism Academy of UNWTO as a platform for creating and disseminating training programs through the Internet in Saudi Arabia.