Saudi Arabia announces opening of Riyadh School for Tourism and Hospitality

Saudi Arabia announces opening of Riyadh School for Tourism and Hospitality

Riyadh, The Gulf Observer: The Saudi Arabian Minister of Tourism, Ahmed Al-Khateeb, announced the inauguration of the Riyadh School for Tourism and Hospitality at the 2023 United Nations World Tourism Organization’s (UNWTO) World Tourism Day celebrations in Riyadh.

“Yesterday I was so touched with the Secretary General (of UNWTO Zurab Pololikashvili) to visit the schools and meet with the students… This school is a gift from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to the world because it will be open to everyone to enjoy the best training in tourism and hospitality,” Al-Khateeb said during the announcement.

The facilities will then move to a larger campus in Qiddiyah scaled at 5 million square meters (50 million square feet) in 2027. The project will cost over USD1 billion to build.

The school initiative hopes to shape the future of industry education by attracting the brightest minds and employing cutting-edge technologies in an innovative facility.

It will offer a lead vocational and academic study program that places students at the heart of its curriculum, and provide a rich, diverse, and global learning experience through real-world practice.

Last year, the Ministry revealed alongside Pololikashvili, that they will be sending 100,000 Saudi talent every year for training across the globe throughout a five-year period, equipping them with the skills to work in the tourism and sustainability sector. “We will extend it to the next 10 years,” Al-Khateeb said.

“We are committing USD100 million every year to train them…Those who come back will work in the private sector and I’m encouraging them and other groups of investors to also join the government in investing in talent,” Al-Khateeb said.

While the Saudi industry lost over 60 million jobs due to the pandemic, the Kingdom is investing over USD800 billion in the sector and working to create 1 million jobs across the next 10 years, and is expecting international arrivals to double by 2032.

Al-Kateeb said: “It’s easy to put policies and procedures and systems (into place), but the most difficult thing that you need to have is the people…We need to have enough young people to join our industry today and I believe we need to double them in the future.

“We’re trying to make our sector, work in travel and tourism, as attractive and we need to make it a career for life for people to come and stay, and progress, and prosper throughout their life.”

The Kingdom continues its ambitious journey to become a global tourism hub by 2030 by investing in human capital, and the school is one of its latest initiatives to achieve the goal.

The 2023 WTD, held from Sept. 27-28, will explore potential avenues of collaboration between world tourism leaders by placing people, sustainability, and prosperity at the forefront of its discussions under the theme “Tourism and Green Investments.”