The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has announced that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is to host its 26th General Assembly, taking place in 2025. The news follows the recent hosting of the United Nations Environment Program’s (UNEP’s) MENA Climate Week, held in Riyadh in October 2023.
The UNWTO announcement was made during the participation of HE Ahmed Al-Khatib, Minister of Tourism, at the 25th General Assembly, held in the city of Samarkand, Uzbekistan, from October 16-20, 2023.
As a distinguished member of the General Assembly, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia plays a significant role on the international stage, and will now prepare for its next meeting in 2025. The General Assembly is the governing body of the UNWTO, established in 1975, and featuring representatives from 159 Member States, alongside private sector representatives and non-governmental organizations.
HE Ahmed Al-Khateeb, Minister of Tourism, said:
I extend my heartfelt thanks to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques and His Highness the Crown Prince, may God protect them, for their unwavering support of the Kingdom’s tourism sector. Our hosting of the 26th General Assembly underscores our commitment to lead global tourism towards a brighter and more collaborative future. It also highlights our significant achievements in the Executive Council, which the Kingdom assumed leadership of in 2023.
The hosting of the 26th General Assembly in 2025 will be a momentous celebration, supported by various activities aimed at raising awareness of tourism’s role in promoting sustainable development and global peace. The event will provide an opportunity for the Kingdom to showcase its unparalleled tourism and cultural developments, and bolster international cooperation in this vital sector.
The Kingdom’s selection as host is a testament to its remarkable efforts in launching numerous regional and international initiatives, such as the Riyadh School of Tourism and Hospitality, and the upcoming Sustainable Tourism Global Center (STGC), also in Riyadh. The UNWTO even established its first regional center for the Middle East in the Kingdom. Upcoming mega-projects, such as NEOM, the Red Sea Project, the Qiddiya entertainment destination, and historical Diriyah, further solidify Saudi Arabia’s commitment to the growth of global tourism.
Saudi Arabia’s dedication to global tourism extends beyond event hosting. It actively contributes to reshaping and advancing the global tourism landscape, exemplified by its collaborative work with Spain, suggesting that the UNWTO form a Redesigning Tourism for the Future Task Force in the wake of the COVID pandemic. These progressive ideas underscore the Kingdom’s commitment to sustainable and responsible tourism, and its responsiveness to the needs of the international community.
The Kingdom is extending its efforts to enrich the tourism sector, moving beyond economic benefits to foster cultural exchange, international understanding, and unity. This vision aligns with the Kingdom’s aspirations to host Expo 2030, emphasizing its goal of uniting everyone under a shared heritage, and nurturing dreams of a brighter future.
Saudi Arabia recognizes the tourism sector’s potential as a catalyst for change, innovation, and prosperity. This recognition underscores its deep commitment to supporting a global tourism sector that can be both sustainable and prosperous.