RIYADH: More than 500 officials, tourism leaders and experts from 120 countries attended a gala event in Diriyah in the Saudi capital this week to mark World Tourism Day.
Among the guests at the At-Turaif UNESCO World Heritage Site were 50 tourism ministers who had been in the Kingdom for a series of conferences, UN World Tourism Organization initiatives and private-sector sessions hosted by Ahmed Al-Khateeb, Saudi minister of tourism.
Zurab Pololikashivli, the UNWTO secretary-general, was honored at the event for his leadership and contribution to the sessions and activities that took place throughout World Tourism Day.
“Since its historic grand opening in December 2022, Diriyah has already welcomed one million visitors,” Al-Khateeb said.
“Fast emerging as one of the world’s foremost tourism destinations, Saudi Arabia will target 100 million visits annually by 2030 as it looks to accelerate an $800 billion plan to become a travel hotspot and one of the world’s most visited countries.
“Saudi Arabia is already the most visited country in the region, and by the end of the decade, the sector will contribute more than 10 percent toward the Kingdom’s GDP,” he said.
Jerry Inzerillo, group CEO of Diriyah Company, said it was fitting that Diriyah was chosen to host the gala event.
“As Diriyah Company oversees the opening of the birthplace of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to the world, it embodies a vibrant reconnection with the Kingdom’s rich history, where a nation was born,” he said.
“Diriyah serves as a bridge between cultures and generations, rekindling its role as one of the world’s greatest gathering places and emerging as a premier cultural tourist destination.
“World Tourism Day reflects a worldwide commitment to preserving heritage, nurturing cultural exchange and crafting unforgettable experiences for visitors from across the globe. At Diriyah, we are dedicated to bringing these pillars of tourism to life every day,” he said.