Towards sustainable tourism

Saudi Arabia hosted global travel industry leaders across public and private sectors at the Tourism Recovery Summit in Riyadh recently. The summit convened to discuss common solutions and tangible actions as the sector enters a new era. Participants exchanged experiences, ideas and opportunities to ensure the future of tourism is more sustainable, resilient and inclusive.

The Tourism Recovery Summit gathered more than 60 speakers at the Ritz Carlton in Riyadh and attracted a global virtual audience of thousands. The speaker line-up included 16 tourism ministers from around the globe as well as private sector leaders from the aviation, hospitality and cruise sectors as well as industry bodies. Through panel discussions and bilateral meetings, participants exchanged experiences, ideas and opportunities to ensure the future of tourism is more sustainable, resilient and inclusive.

Participants at the summit included The Hon. Edmund Bartlett CD, MP, Minister of Tourism of Jamaica; H.E. Harry Theoharis, Minister of Tourism of Greece; Sir Martin Sorrell, Founder and Executive Chairman of S4 Capital and Founder, WPP; Dr. Jill Tiefenthaler, CEO, National Geographic Society; Geoffrey Kent, Founder, Co-Chairman and CEO, Abercrombie and Kent; Willie Walsh, Director General, International Air Transport Association (IATA); Sébastien Bazin, Group CEO and Chairman of the Board, Accor; Ernesto Ottone Ramírez, Assistant Director-General for Culture, UNESCO; Amr AlMadani, CEO, Royal Commission for AlUla; Nadhmi Al-Nasr, CEO, NEOM;  John Pagano, CEO, Red Sea Development Project & Amaala; and Jerry Inzerillo, CEO, Diriyah Gate Development Authority.

In his opening address to the summit, His Excellency Ahmed Al Khateeb, Minister of Tourism for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, called for greater collaboration between the private and public sectors as tourism enters a new era. He said recovery would be based on three main principles: sustainability, inclusivity and collaboration.

In his comments to attendees, United Nations World Tourism Organization’s (UNWTO) Secretary General Zurab Pololikashvili announced the launch of the organisation’s Best Tourism Villages initiative, which will identify villages taking innovative and transformative approaches to tourism in rural areas. He also inaugurated the UNWTO’s first Regional Office, in Riyadh, which will harness collaboration to grow and strengthen the region’s tourism industry.

Her Highness Princess Haifa Mohamed Bint Al Saud, Assistant Minister of Tourism, expressed optimism for the future of the industry, emphasising the need to satisfy people’s desire to travel while building an ecosystem that attracts investment and enables a greater diversity of people and geographic areas to benefit in the prosperity tourism brings.

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