UNWTO Nations want Rescue and Saudi Arabia Responds with Billions
- “We are making history today!” This is the report from a shining star in the travel and tourism industry eTurboNews, published on October 6th last year.
- The star at the time was the most influential woman in tourism, Gloria Guevara. At the time, she was CEO of the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC). She didn’t even know how much she can move and shake this industry to a level that this sector and the world have not yet experienced.
- Today the center of the travel and tourism industry has come together in one place: Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. This could include the very first UNWTO (World Tourism Organization) move to relocate its headquarters from Spain to Saudi Arabia.
The future and recovery of one of the greatest global industries could be in the hands of a gracious nation, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
The leader with a vision for 2030 will be the Minister of Tourism of Saudi Arabia, Hon. Ahmed Al-Khateeb, if successful. The woman behind world tourism reform could be former CEO of WTTC, Gloria Guevara from Mexico, who now works as a top advisor to the same minister, Ahmed Al-Khateeb.
The G20 may also be the day Gloria Guevara received a job offer that she couldn’t refuse. The reason she couldn’t refuse could not only be the healthy salary the country Saudi Arabia can afford, but also her consistency in revitalizing travel and tourism in the world.
In fact, Saudi Arabia spends nearly $ 500 billion to build the global tourism industry both domestically and to help and invest in others.
While most countries run out of money to support this industry, oil-rich Saudi Arabia sees its investment in tourism not just as a win-win opportunity, but as a contribution to the world.
In May 2021, the WTTC, under the direction of Gloria Guevara, held the first global summit of the leading tourism companies in Cancun, Mexico.
Her intention as CEO of WTTC, the organization with the largest travel and tourism companies, was to save the private sector. Guevara was looking for international coordination. One answer came from Saudi Arabia, packed with an invitation to the G20. This was the first time that private actors were invited.
That was what the private sector needed, a public-private partnership with those who can make a difference.
The first global travel and tourism summit since the COVID-19 outbreak was held. The venue was the resort of Cancun in Mexico. A proud Gloria Guevara, who served as Minister of Tourism for Mexico from March 10, 2010 to November 30, 2012, ended this successful summit of communication and hope for the world of tourism.
The UNWTO Secretary General Zurab Pololikashvili was absent from Mexico.
However, Zurab is not lacking in Saudi Arabia. While his official position is that he has no problem with UNWTO host country Spain, the UNWTO has already opened a regional office in Saudi Arabia.
According to Spanish media reports, diplomats in Spain and Saudi Arabia have been very busy behind the scenes.
Many UNWTO members, especially UNWTO member groups who are not members of the prestigious executive committee of the UN-affiliated organization, have felt abandoned by the UNWTO since Zurab took over the helm. The UNWTO does not have the people, the money and the resources to make a significant difference to its paying members. Members often feel not only abandoned but also overwhelmed. Membership in the UNWTO is not cheap, especially when the industry is going through its worst crisis ever.
All of this could come to an end if the UNWTO headquarters could be relocated to Saudi Arabia and forced to work again with other organizations such as the WTTC. The writing is already on the wall. Both UNWTO and WTTC had already opened a regional office in Riyadh. This was announced at the G20. Saudi Arabia is ready to save and revive tourism. Other organizations are in the process of doing this, and others are considering gaining a foothold in Saudi Arabia.
In public, Spain has been calm so far, but according to reliable sources in Madrid, Spain is angry. The Ministry of Tourism in Madrid did not respond to a request from eTurboNews.
According to local media reports in Madrid, officials in Spain proposed a long overdue renovation of the current UNWTO headquarters to make up for the shortcomings as a permanent host.
That might come a little late, however, as countries knocked on Saudi Arabia’s door to support a move of UNWTO headquarters to the kingdom.
Every country is hungry for investment and money in tourism, and Saudi Arabia has already responded to many emergency calls.
The undisputed award-winning star of the WTTC summit in Cancun was without a doubt the Minister of Tourism from Saudi Arabia. Many delegates told eTurboNews that the main reason for attending the summit was to meet with the Saudi Arabian delegation. Money talked in Cancun and is talking now.
The minister from Saudi Arabia received rewards and recognitions in Cancun when WTTC CEO Gloria Guevara opened the doors to what we see today.
There is a lot to be done, there is a lot of injustice and challenges, reported eTurboNews from the summit.
There will be a new morning for tourism, predicted eTurboNews editor Jürgen Steinmetz almost a month ago. This new morning, or some say the new normal may have already begun. It seems that Saudi Arabia is emerging as a clear thinker and leader.
There are many speakers in the world of tourism. This includes CEOs, ministers and association heads. Every country has one problem in common: the problem is that there are no solutions, no money to even discuss solutions. Nobody knows how to save travel and tourism and its millions of busy actors.
With a friend in Riyadh, dreams can come true. They may be expensive but there are solutions and Saudi Arabia has responded to 911 calls (112) as a friend and a nation that cares for this industry, the people who work in that sector, and other countries in dire straits too seems interested.
Because while tourism is not new in Saudi Arabia, the opening up of western tourism to the kingdom is new, and helping the rest of the world can be a cultural issue, but also a long-term business opportunity for the kingdom.
Darling. Edmund Bartlett and HE Ahmed Al Khateeb meet at the African Tourism Recovery Summit
Where are we at the moment?
At the ministerial level, only a handful of ministers try to make a difference. Among them is certainly the Hon. Edmund Bartlett from Jamaica.
Bartlett and Al-Khateeb recently signed a letter of intent, both wearing Bob Marley hats. Bartlett’s international outreach focus has clearly shifted to Saudi Arabia.
The G20 could also have been the day Gloria Guevara received a job offer from Saudi Arabia that she could not have turned down. It was also the event when Saudi Arabia pledged billions of dollars in global support to the sector – and kept the promise.
What the Chairman of the World Tourism Network thinks:
Jürgen Steinmetz, chairman of the World Tourism Network and host of the travel reconstruction discussion, said:
“World Tourism needs help, and Saudi Arabia is responding. ”
Steinmetz, who is also the editor of eTurboNews, added: “WTN recently established a very active Saudi Arabian advocacy group under the leadership of HRH Dr. Abdulaziz Bin Nasser Al-Saud founded.
“It’s not really about giving a country the power of tourism. It’s about working with doers and not just with followers and speakers. Saudi Arabia is a doer and has shown more leadership in the travel and tourism industry during this crisis than most other countries combined.
“Saudi Arabia puts its money into promises. I don’t see anything wrong here. Tourism will remain an industry with many regional activities. After all, it’s usually a selfish industry where travel destinations compete with one another.
“Having a tourist center in one place is a great idea. If the host of such a global center has the money to get it up and running, it sounds like a win for the travel and tourism world.
“Having a global tourism hub does not mean that this world is creating a global ideology or a global government for tourism. It has nothing to do with the political ideology of a host country. A country’s ideology will never dominate world tourism. For example, the United Nations is not a US agency, even though it is based in the United States. It may be the other way around. By bringing the world together, a host country can learn, accept and open up to new ideas and cultures.
“Having the head office of tourism in one place will not change the diversity of the way tourism is viewed and what it does in different parts of the world. It’s a small world, after all, and Zoom showed us all of that.
“We should praise Saudi Arabia for answering so many emergency calls. The country is becoming a first responder for our industry and has the resources to help. So far, Saudi Arabia has reacted in a friendly manner and with a smile. “