RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Tourism has announced the election of the Kingdom as chair of the executive council of the United Nations World Tourism Organization for 2023.

The announcement was made at the 117th session of the organisation’s executive council being held in Marrakesh, making the Kingdom the first Gulf country to hold the post.

“The Kingdom is honored to be elected as chair of the World Tourism Organization’s executive council and we believe in the importance of the organization’s pioneering role. We look forward to cooperating with all countries to support and develop the global tourism sector,” the Minister of Tourism Ahmed Al-Khateeb said.

He added that the Kingdom has been an active member of the organization by launching initiatives, supporting new ideas, and opening the organization’s first regional office in Saudi Arabia to promote its agenda and work in the Middle East and beyond.

“At the heart of the UNWTO is a desire to promote tourism as a catalyst of economic development, which Saudi Arabia wholeheartedly supports. We have committed $800 billion of government investment into the Saudi tourism industry by 2030.

“Our imperative is that the development we seek, both as a nation and globally, is sustainable, inclusive and resilient. That’s how we will address the fast-changing needs of businesses, communities and the planet,” Al-Khateeb said.

As chair, Saudi Arabia will set the agenda for all meetings, ensuring that it captures the most pressing issues and concerns for the tourism industry. It will facilitate and moderate meetings effectively, chair dialogue and encourage actionable outcomes.

Saudi Arabia was first vice-chair of the executive council for 2022.