- “We are making history today!” This is the report of a shining star in the travel and tourism industry eTurboNews published on October 6 last year.
- The star was the most influential woman in tourism at that time, Gloria Guevara. At that time she was the CEO of the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC). Little did she even know how much of a mover and shaker of this industry on a level this sector and the world has not yet seen she may become today.
- Today the Center of the travel and tourism industry is coming together in one place: Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. This may inclucde the first move ever of the UNWTO (World Tourism Organization) to relocate its headquarters from Spain to Saudi Arabia.
The future and recovery of one of the largest global industries may be in the hand of a gracious nation, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
The leader with a 2030 vision behind all of this, if successful, will be the Minister of Tourism for Saudi Arabia, Hon. Ahmed Al-Khateeb. The lady behind the reformation of world tourism may be the former CEO of WTTC, Gloria Guevara from Mexico, who is now working as a top advisor with the same minister, Ahmed Al-Khateeb.
The G20 may have also been the day Gloria Guevara received a job offer, she could not refuse. The reason she could not refuse may not only the healthy salary the country of Saudi Arabia can afford but her consistency in relaunching travel and tourism in the world.
As a matter of fact, Saudi Arabia is spending close to 500 Billion US-Dollar to build the world tourism industry both in its own country, but also in helping and investing in others.
While money is running dry in most countries to put behind this industry, oil-rich Saudi Arabia sees its investment in tourism not only as a win/win opportunity but as a contribution to the world.
In May 2021 WTTC under the leadership of Gloria Guevara started the ball rolling.
The first global travel and tourism summit since the outbreak of COVID-19 took place. The venue was the resort town Cancun in Mexico. A proud Gloria Guevara, who had the post of the Secretary of Tourism for Mexico from March 10, 2010, to November 30, 2012, concluded this successful summit of communication and hope for the world of tourism.
Who was absent in Mexico, was UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili.
Zurab however is not absent in Saudi Arabia. While his official stand is that he has no issue with UNWTO’s host country Spain, UNWTO already opened a regional office in Saudi Arabia.
According to Spanish media reports, diplomats in Spain and Saudi Arabia had been very busy behind the scene.
Many of UNWTO’s members, specifically UNWTO member counties that are not a member of the prestigious executive board of the UN-affiliated agency are feeling abandoned by UNWTO ever since Zurab took the helm. UNWTO doesn’t have the people, money, and resources in place to make a significant difference for its paying members. Members often feel not only abandoned but sheeted. Membership in UNWTO is not cheap, specifically when the industry goes through the worst crisis ever.
All of this may come to an end if UNWTO HQ could be moved to Saudi Arabia, and would be forced to work again with other organizations, such as WTTC. The writing is already on the wall. Both UNWTO and WTTC had opened already a regional office in Riyadh. This was announced at the G20. Saudi Arabia is ready to rescue and relaunch tourism. Other organizations are in the process, more are thinking about having a foot in Saudi Arabia.
In public, Spain has been quiet so far, but according to reliable sources in Madrid, Spain is angry. When contacted by eTurboNews, the ministry of Tourism in Madrid did not respond.
According to local media reports in Madrid, officials in Spain proposed a long-overdue renovation of the current UNWTO Headquarters to make up for shortcomings as a permanent host.
This however may come a little too late, since countries had been knocking on the door of Saudi Arabia to support a move of the UNWTO HQ to the Kingdom.
Every country is hungry for investment and funding when it comes to tourism, and Saudi Arabia already responded to many emergency calls.
The undisputed award-winning star at the WTTC Summit in Cancun was, without doubt, the minister of Tourism from Saudi Arabia. Many delegates told eTurboNews the main reason for them to attend the summit was to meet the Saudi Arabia 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 for what we see today.
There is much to do, there is a lot of unfairness and challenges eTurboNews reported from the summit.
There will be a new tomorrow for tourism predicted eTurboNews publisher Juergen Steinmetz just about a month ago. This new tomorrow or some say the new normal may have already started. It appears Saudi Arabia is emerging as a clear thinker and leader.
There are many talkers in the world of tourism. They include 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 available. No one knows how to rescue travel and tourism and its millions of stakeholders employed.
With a friend in Riyadh, dreams may very well come true. They may be expensive, but there are solutions, and Saudi Arabia has been responding to 911 (112) calls as a friend and a nation that seems to care about this industry, the people working in this sector, and other countries in a dire situation.
After all, while tourism is not new to Saudi Arabia, opening western tourism to the Kingdom is new, and helping the rest of the world may be a cultural issue, but also a business opportunity in the long term for the kingdom.
Where do we currently stand?
Looking at the ministerial level, only a handful of ministers are trying to make a difference. Among them is certainly the Hon. Edmund Bartlett from Jamaica.
Bartlett and Al-Khateeb signed a document of intend recently, both wearing a Bob Marley hat. Bartlett’s international outreach focus clearly changed to Saudi Arabia.
The G20 may have also been the day Gloria Guevara received a job offer from Saudi Arabia, she could have not refused. It was also the event when Saudi Arabia promised billions of Dollars of global support for the sector- and is delivering on the promise.
What the World Tourism Network Chairman thinks:
“World Tourism needs help, and Saudi Arabia is responding. ”
Steinmetz, who is also the publisher of eTurboNews added: “WTN recently started a very active Saudi Arabia interest group under the leadership of His Royal Highness Dr. Abdulaziz Bin Nasser Al-Saud.
” It’s not really about appearing to give the power of tourism to one country. It’s about working with doers and not only followers and talkers. 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 behind promises. I see nothing wrong here. Tourism will remain an industry of many regional activities. After all, it’s usually a selfish industry where destinations compete with each other.
“Having a center of tourism in one place is a great idea. If the host for such a global center has money to make it work, it sounds like a win to the world of travel and tourism.
“In having a global center for tourism doesn’t mean 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. The ideology of a country will never dominant World Tourism. The United Nations for example is not a US agency, even though it’s hosted in the United States. It’s maybe the other way around. In bringing the world together a host country can learn, adopt and open up to new ideas and cultures.
“Having Tourism Headquarters in one place will not shift the diverse way tourism is seen and is operating in different parts of the world. It’s a small world after all, and Zoom showed this to all of us.
“We should applaud Saudi Arabia for answering so many 911 calls. The country is becoming a first responder for our industry and has the resources to help. Saudi Arabia so far has been responding graciously and with a smile.”