Former Head of the WTTC Appointed by Saudi as Top Advisor for Tourism

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With an eye toward diversifying away from an oil-based economy, Saudi Arabia has appointed Gloria Guevara Manzo to a top advisory position.

Most recently, Manzo worked as CEO of the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC). Earlier this month, she resigned and was replaced by Julia Simpson.

Manzo’s credentials were praised by Saudi Tourism Minister Ahmed Al-Khateeb in her announcement of the appointment.

“Saudi Arabia’s tourism industry has incredible potential and is already supporting economic growth and job creation across the kingdom.”

“We have a strong national heritage and thousands of unique stories to be told. Gloria brings international expertise and a tremendous global network from her time representing the global tourism and travel sector as the CEO of WTTC and direct experience with evolving a nascent tourism industry from her time as Secretary of Tourism in Mexico, that will help us as our large-scale investment in tourism moves to the next level.”

Saudi Arabia has historically struggled to attract both domestic and international tourists due to societal limitations, including a strict no-drinking policy, severe restrictions for women, and allegations of human rights abuses.

Furthermore, Riyadh did not welcome international tourists for so long that its infrastructure remained underdeveloped. Even locals complained about the lack of venues.

Following her appointment, Manzo tweeted, “This country has the foundation and the unique assets to become a tourism superpower.”

The WTTC credited Manzo with elevating the travel industry’s economic power by creating a safety stamp that is recognized by the industry, despite the perceived inability to shift away from a volume-based metric to measure success before Covids and its detrimental impact on destinations.

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