World Tourism Day (WTD) speaker unveiled by Saudi Arabia
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Saudi Arabia Unveils Top Tourism Leaders and Global Ministers in Speaker Line-up for World Tourism Day 2023



The World Tourism Day (WTD) speaker line-up for this year has been made public. The event will take place in Riyadh on September 27 and 28.

The World Tourism Day (WTD) speaker line-up for this year has been made public. The event will take place in Riyadh on September 27 and 28.

With more than 500 government officials, industry leaders and experts from across 120 countries set to descend on Riyadh for the event, the level of attendance demonstrates the significance of WTD 2023 in charting the future of the global tourism sector’s growth.

The breadth of high-level speakers showcases the collective impetus across industry. To celebrate the sector’s successes while exploring solutions to its most pressing challenges. Speakers announced today include:

  • His Excellency Ahmed Al-Khateeb, Minister of Tourism of Saudi Arabia
  • Zurab Pololikashvili, Secretary-General of the United Nations World Tourism Organization
  • His Excellency Khalid Al Falih, Minister of Investment of Saudi Arabia
  • Her Highness Princess Haifa Bint Mohammed Al Saud, Vice Minister of Tourism
  • Her Excellency Patricia de Lille, Minister of Tourism of South Africa
  • Her Excellency Nikolina Brnjac, Minister of Tourism and Sports of the Republic of Croatia
  • His Excellency Mehmet Ersoy, Minister of Culture and Tourism of Turkey
  • Her Excellency Rosa Ana Morillo Rodriguez, Secretary of State, Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism of Spain
  • Julia Simpson, CEO of the World Travel & Tourism Council
  • Pansy Ho, Secretary General of the Global Tourism Economy Forum
  • Captain Ibrahim Koshy, the CEO of Saudi Arabian Airlines (SAUDIA)
  • Pierfrancesco Vago, CEO of MSC Cruises
  • Greg Webb, CEO of Travelport
  • Matthew Upchurch, CEO of Virtuoso
  • Ritesh Agarwal, CEO of OYO
António Guterres, UN Secretary General, said: “Tourism is a powerful force for progress and mutual understanding. But in order to deliver its full benefits, this force must be protected and nurtured. On this World Tourism Day, we recognize the vital need for green investments to build a tourism sector that delivers for people and planet. So let us all do more to harness the full potential of sustainable tourism. Because investing in sustainable tourism is investing in a better future for all.” 

WTD 2023 will take place under the theme “Tourism and Green Investments”, With the aim of fostering global collaboration to examine investment opportunities to strengthen resilience of the tourism industry, and steering the sector towards an investment-led and sustainably focused future.

The two-day event will see tourism leaders participate in keynote speeches and panel discussions. They are centred around three UNWTO core themes: people, planet and prosperity.

Participants will explore the power of tourism and the sector’s role. It will be bridging cultures, preserving the environment, and promoting a more harmonious and interconnected world.


The World Tourism Day Schedule

The first day will explore the UNWTO theme of ‘Tourism and Green Investments’ through panels ranging from the power of tourism in building bridges; investing in human capabilities; the potential of less-traversed tourism destinations; challenges and solutions in achieving a sustainable future; to bridging the innovation gap and powering entrepreneurship. On the evening of the first day, Saudi Arabia will hold a gala dinner in UNESCO heritage site Diriyah, as a celebration of WTD 2023.

The Tourism Leaders Forum is taking place on the second day under the theme ‘Tourism for People, Prosperity and Intercultural Dialogue’. A public sector session will examine the sustainable future for the industry, while a private sector session will explore seamless end-to-end travel. A WTD 2024 handover will additionally take place between Saudi Arabia and Georgia, ahead of Georgia’s hosting of the event next year.

The scale of the event being hosted in Riyadh showcases the prominence of the Saudi government to the development of the global tourism sector. The United Nations World Tourism Organization’s (UNWTO) Executive Council Chair decided to be the Kingdom for 2023, and hosted the World Travel and Tourism Council’s Global Summit in Riyadh last year.

According to the recent UNWTO Barometer Report, the Middle East reported the best results in January-July 2023, with arrivals 20% above pre-pandemic levels. The region continues to be the only to exceed 2019 levels so far, with Saudi witnessing extraordinary double-digit growth at (+58%).