Spain says Saudi Arabia will not seek to move the headquarters of the World Tourism Organization to its territory


Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Alparís during a press conference in Islamabad on September 10, 2021 afp_tickers

This content was published on Sep 27, 2021 – Jul 16:47,

The Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced on Monday that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia will not seek to transfer the headquarters of the World Tourism Organization, which is currently in Madrid, to its territory.

A source in the ministry told AFP that “the Saudi authorities have confirmed that they will not submit a candidacy to host (the headquarters) of the organization at the expense of Madrid” during the meeting of the General Assembly of the World Tourism Organization in November in Marrakesh (Morocco).

The United Nations organization did not confirm this information in connection with Agence France-Presse, considering that the matter is up to the member states.

In recent weeks, the Spanish government has been waging a diplomatic battle to prevent the transfer of the only UN agency based in the country to Saudi Arabia, accusing Riyadh of working behind the scenes to achieve this.

“We cannot change the headquarters of international institutions on a whim (…) If that happens, it will be a challenge for Spain but also for the balance of the distribution of headquarters in the multilateral system,” said Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Alparis.

In contact with Agence France-Presse, a senior official in the Saudi Ministry of Tourism denied any “negotiations underway” in this regard.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman launched a broad program of economic reforms in his country, the world’s largest oil exporter, entitled “Vision 2030”, to stop reliance on oil as a main source of revenue, which included listing a small percentage of the Aramco oil company on the stock exchange.

It also helped pass the historic decision to allow women to drive cars, attend sporting events and festivals, and obtain a passport without the consent of a “guardian.” He worked to reduce the influence of the religious police in the conservative kingdom, allowing concerts and reopening cinemas.

The World Tourism Organization has 159 member states. It has been led by Georgian Zurab Pulikashvili since January 2018, and has been based in Madrid since 1975.

Tourism is a vital sector for Spain, which is the second largest tourist destination in the world after France with 83.5 million foreign tourists in 2019. According to Madrid, this sector represents 12% of Spain’s GDP and 13% of the country’s jobs.


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