Saudi Tourism Chief Advisor Gloria Guevara Manzo Leaves Role

Skift Take

Manzo spent three years in Saudi Arabia, right as the conservative kingdom began to reinvent its image.

Gloria Guevara Manzo, Saudi Arabia’s chief special advisor to the tourism minister, has announced she’s stepping down.

Manzo has worked in Saudi’s Ministry of Tourism since May 2021, reporting directly to minister Ahmed Al Khateeb as the Gulf capital undergoes a tourism transformation project. The kingdom is spending hundreds of billions on its fledging tourism sector, with the goal of 150 million visitors by the end of the decade.

“I am convinced of the potential of Saudi Arabia to become a top-five destination,” Manzo said Wednesday in a LinkedIn post announcing that her term had ended.

A lot has changed in Saudi since 2021 when Manzo joined:

  • International visitors have increased from 3.5 million to 27 million last year.
  • Saudi Arabia has been pushing for new source markets, such as China and India, which are now in the top five.
  • The country has committed to open 320,000 new hotel rooms before the end of the decade.
  • A new national carrier, Riyadh Air, has been formed, with flights set to start next year.
  • ‘Giga-projects’ for tourism such as The Red Sea and Diriyah Gate are now operational.

Manzo was the overseer of the Sustainable Tourism Global Center, a Saudi-government-led coalition calling on global tourism to move towards net zero.

Prior to her role with Saudi, Manzo spent four years as CEO and president of the World Travel and Tourism Council – the first woman to hold the position.

She also served as Mexico’s secretary of tourism from 2010 to 2012 and was a special advisor on government affairs at Harvard University’s Center for Health and the Global Environment at the School of Public Health.

Her successor in the ministry of tourism has not been named.

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