Former WTTC chief Gloria Guevara joins Saudi tourism effort

Saudi Arabia has hired former World Travel & Tourism Council CEO Gloria Guevara to help guide its ambitious plans to become a global tourism giant.

Guevara, a former minister of tourism for Mexico, will serve as chief special advisor to the kingdom’s Ministry of Tourism.

In a post on Twitter, Guevara said she was honored by the invitation to join the ministry “during this positive transformation. This country has the foundation and unique assets to become a tourism superpower and well-known global destination.”

It’s just the latest sign of the kingdom’s aggressive moves in the tourism sector.

That effort was underscored this week when the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) announced it was opening it first regional office for the Middle East in Riyadh.

The group said the new office will serve as a hub for the UNWTO to coordinate policy and initiatives across its 13 member states in the region. Riyadh will also be home to an expanded UNWTO International Tourism Academy, the group announced.

In 2019, the kingdom for the first time opened to leisure travelers and has several large projects in the works as part of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s  ambitious Vision 2030 plan to diversify the kingdom’s oil-dominated economy.

Among those efforts are two massive projects to develop luxury tourism centers at the historic site of Diriyah, known as the birthplace of the Saudi state, and across a massive, previously untouched swath of the Red Sea.

Additionally, Saudi Arabia earlier this year announced the formation of Cruise Saudi, a publicly funded effort to develop ports, destinations and excursion options to attract more cruising to the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf.

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