This year's World Tourism Day in Riyadh welcomed leaders and experts from across 120 countries calling for global tourism collaboration.
‘Discover the undiscovered’. That was one of the key messages at World Tourism Day 2023 held in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
“Visiting the undiscovered disseminates wealth and creates opportunities even within the most mature countries, but still in the less discovered destinations. And that's the kind of openness that we want to see,” said Fahd Hamidaddin, CEO of Saudi Tourism Authority.
The biggest event in its history welcomed leaders and experts from across 120 countries calling for global tourism collaboration. It is run by the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), the United Nations agency that is responsible for the promotion of sustainable, responsible and accessible tourism.
The UNWTO used the day as a platform to celebrate a new global initiative ‘Tourism Opens Minds’. It is designed to unite and encourage nations, tourism sector leaders and consumers to be more open-minded when choosing travel destinations and to diversify their travel habits.
“Tourism has the broadest economic impact, the deepest social footprint. And this is what we remind everybody when we celebrate World Tourism Day,” said Marcelo Risi, Chief of Communications at UNWTO.
The announcement was timely and came as findings from a YouGov international survey revealed that almost half of respondents are uncomfortable travelling to places they know little about.
Investing in greener travel
People's sustainability and prosperity were at the forefront of this year’s discussions under the theme ‘tourism and green investments’.
Spain recently hit a milestone record month for visitors as it welcomed 10 million international tourists in July.
The country is committed to an agenda that puts people and the planet at its forefront. Rosana Morillo, Spain's Secretary of State for Tourism said, “We put in the recuperation and modernisation plan of Spain, €3.4 billion into being greener, into being more sustainable socially, which is so important for us and into ensuring the future not only of our successful destinations that are already very well known, but also a sustainable future for the ones that are yet to be discovered.”
The global tourism industry is expected to reach €8.9 trillion in GDP contributions in 2023, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council. That's also in line with predictions that it will hit 80 to 95% of pre-pandemic levels this year too.
As this year's event drew to a close, the baton was handed on to Georgia to welcome the world to next year's World Tourism Day.
“We're very grateful towards all the 38 nations who have voted and supported Georgia's candidacy. It is a great honour. It is additional international recognition of our country as a brand, as a tourism brand,” said Mariam Kvrivishvili, Deputy Minister at the Georgian Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development.