Saudi Arabia - The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was elected Chair of the Executive Council of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) at the UNWTO’s 117th Executive Council meeting in Marrakesh, Morocco.

This is the first time that a country from the Arab Gulf fills this role.

Ahmed Al-Khateeb, Saudi Arabia's Minister of Tourism, who will represent the kingdom, said: “Saudi Arabia is honoured to have been elected Chair of the UNWTO Executive Council. We firmly believe in the mission of UNWTO and look forward to working with all countries to advance the global tourism sector. Saudi Arabia has been an active partner to the UNWTO, launching initiatives, championing new thinking and opening the first Regional Office to help drive the agenda forward 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,” continued Al-Khateeb.

Previously, the Kingdom served as First Vice-Chair of the Executive Council, and will now replace the outgoing Chair, Côte d' Ivoire. 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. Saudi Arabia will facilitate and moderate meetings effectively chairing the dialogue and encouraging actionable outcomes. The term for the Chair of the Executive Council is one year and Saudi Arabia will hold the position for the entirety of 2023.

The UNWTO is a specialised agency of the United Nations, and the leading international tourism organization, serving as a global forum for tourism policy issues. It is charged with promoting and developing tourism as a means of fostering international peace and understanding, economic development and international trade. The Executive Council is the second highest decision-making body in UNWTO after the General Assembly.

The Executive Council’s remit is to provide recommendations for programs and initiatives, that reflect the views of the member states, in consultation with the Secretary-General, to the Assembly. The Executive Council meets at least twice a year and is made up of members elected by the General Assembly to reflect the geographic diversity of the UNWTO’s membership. 

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