RIYADH: Tonga has become the latest country to declare its support for Saudi Arabia’s bid to host the World Expo in 2030.
The Polynesian country’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Fekitamoeloa ‘Utoikamanu made the declaration during a meeting with the Kingdom’s Tourism Minister Ahmed Al Khateeb in Riyadh.
Saudi Arabia submitted its bid for the World Expo 2030 in October last year, in a letter sent by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to the Bureau International des Expositions, the international organizing body for the global event since 1931.
The Kingdom has already earned significant support for its bid from more than 60 countries and organizations around the world, including China, France, Turkiye, Greece, Armenia, Cuba, dozens of other African nations, and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.
If Saudi Arabia is selected to host the event, authorities plan to turn Riyadh and the rest of the country into a world-class venue for global culture, connectivity and climate action.
The Kingdom 's capital is competing against Busan in South Korea, Rome in Italy, and Odesa in Ukraine for Expo 2030, with a ballot to be held by the BIE in November 2023, on the principle of one country, one vote.
In a statement after her meeting, ‘Utoikamanu — also Tonga’s tourism minister — acknowledged the leadership Saudi Arabia has shown over the last few years to boost its tourism industry and the ambitious plan to attract 100 million visitors by 2030.
“During my visit it is obvious that the Saudi Government is committed to boosting sustainable tourism,” she said, adding: “The investments in smart, environmentally sound infrastructure place Saudi Arabia as a global leader in responsible development and growth.”
Tonga and Saudi Arabia established diplomatic relations in 2020, and the Kingdom’s tourism minister was one of the first foreign dignitaries to visit the country this year, following two years of border closures.
Al Khateeb acknowledged that even if the relations between Tonga and Saudi Arabia are recent, the reciprocal high-level visits signal the commitment by both sides to strengthen the friendly relations that have developed between the two Kingdoms.
‘Utoikamanu used her trip to Saudi Arabia to attend the World Travel and Tourism Council Global Summit which took place in Riyadh.
The summit welcomed 57 tourism ministers, 250 CEOs, 8,000 registered participants and 3,000 in-person participants.