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A celebration of UNWTO World Tourism Day 2023

16 October 2023

We created a two day experience for UNWTO World Tourism Day 2023 hosted by the Saudi Arabia Ministry of Tourism in Riyadh. The experience brought together global tourism leaders and sector experts to explore the theme of "Tourism and Green Investments," to foster mutual understanding, build bridges, and safeguard cultural heritage and environmental conservation, thereby contributing to a more harmonious world.

World Tourism Day is a global platform to celebrate the sector's achievements and address its challenges. Saudi Arabia's hosting of this prestigious occasion reflects the nation's commitment to placing tourism and sustainability at the forefront of its Vision 2030 transformation. With the world's fastest post-pandemic sector recovery among G20 countries, Saudi Arabia showcases its leadership and innovation in the tourism community, aligning with the UNWTO's three pillars of people, planet, and prosperity.

The Ministry of Tourism partnered with Imagination to design and deliver the Conference which invited 40 speakers and hundreds of delegates to discuss global tourism and green investments over two days at the Four Seasons, Riyadh. The central theme of unity emphasises Saudi Arabia's key role in future global tourism collaboration.

Guests enjoyed a gala dinner at At-Turaif, the UNESCO World Heritage site at historic Diriyah. The evening began with a sensory global journey through five continents - Australasia, Asia, Africa, Europe, and South America. Each continent featured kinetic sculptures and calligraphy interpreting international poems in celebration of the Saudi Year of Arabic Poetry. Guests were immersed in the culture and traditions of each continent through projected animations and live experiences, which included Australian Indigenous Dot Art, Japanese tea ceremonies, North African Henna art, and more. The journey culminated with Saudi hospitality, Arabic coffee, and traditional music.

Guests - including Prime Ministers, Ministers, and VVIPs - enjoyed a five-course dining experience crafted by Chef Jason Atherton and rising Saudi culinary talents in front of the majestic Salwa Palace. The evening featured immersive performances aligning with the themes of unity and included calligraphy, piano duets, drum collaborations, orchestras, and a 100-strong Ardah performance.

“Our vision for World Tourism Day was to bring together guests from all across the globe for a truly immersive celebration of culture and heritage.

Tourism is a key component of Vision 2030 and Diriyah’s iconic At-Turaif Unesco World Heritage Site was selected as the stunning backdrop for a spectacular evening of music, gastronomy, and meaningful cultural exchange.

The main objective of tourism is to bring people together, deepen our understanding of our unique heritage, and experience what unites us all. This event delivered on that promise,” said HRH Princess Deena Nahar Al Saud.

Imagination CEO, Patrick Reid, said "In partnership with The Ministry of Tourism, we proudly brought World Tourism Day to Saudi Arabia, aligning with the UNWTO's Vision 2030 goals of people, planet, and prosperity. Through previous initiatives like the Saudi Arabia E-visa launch in 2019, we've helped open the doors for global travellers to explore Saudi's rich heritage and vibrant culture, helping shape a future where tourism fuels economic growth, creates jobs, and welcomes millions of visitors by 2030, making Saudi Arabia a beacon of sustainable tourism worldwide."