Saudi Arabia to host first Mideast regional office of UN’s global tourism body

DUBAI: The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has approved setting up a regional office in Riyadh to support the growth of the Middle East’s tourism sector as it recovers from the coronavirus pandemic.

Saudi Tourism Minister Ahmed Al-Khateeb said the UNWTO’s Executive Council members have approved the move to establish the office during a session in Georgia, business news website Zawya has reported.

The office will cover 13 countries within the region, and will serve as a platform to build long-term growth in the travel and tourism sector of the Middle East.

“International cooperation and the role of the UNWTO are more important than ever. I am therefore very excited that Saudi Arabia will become home to the first ever UNWTO Regional Office, which aims to support growth at a national and regional level,” Al-Khateeb said.

The Saudi minister added how important tourism is in the Kingdom’s vision and national strategy.

“In Saudi Arabia, we are very aware of the transformative power of tourism on the economy and people. We may still be a young destination, but tourism is at the forefront of Saudi Arabia’s vision for the future,” he said.

The Kingdom’s Ministry of Tourism and UNWTO have both been working together to design recovery strategies for the hard-hit sector.