Future Hospitality Summit Kicks Off Day 1 with Jam-Packed Programme Live From Riyadh & Around World

Future Hospitality Summit (FHS) – the hybrid virtual conference developed to explore big ideas and tackle the challenges facing the hospitality industry – kicked off its comprehensive and carefully curated 3-pillar programme yesterday, 26th of October. Organised by the Ministry of Tourism of Saudi Arabia and G20 Saudi Secretariat, as part of The International Conferences Programme, honouring the G20 Saudi presidency year 2020, and powered by Bench Digital – FHS’s opening day welcomed more than 6,000 attendees, who were able to effortlessly engage and interact with each other, make new connections, and attend sessions live from their homes or offices.

After the hybrid summit was officially launched by H.E. Ahmed Al Khateeb (Minister of Tourism, Saudi Arabia) and following keynote speeches by Zurab Pololikashvili (Secretary-General of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation) and Gloria Guevara Manzo (CEO & President, World Travel & Tourism Council – WTTC), an esteemed line-up of industry leaders and change-makers came together to discuss, reimagine and pave a new path towards the future of hospitality in the Middle East and across the globe.

Commenting on the future of hospitality and tourism, as well as Saudi Arabia’s ongoing initiatives to stimulate the growth of those sectors, H.E. Ahmed Al Khateeb, Minister of Tourism, Saudi Arabia, said, “We want people to connect with each other. We want them to travel and visit other nations, to explore their history, heritage and cultures. In our meeting in the G20, we agreed that the further improvement of travel, safety and security was at the top of our agenda, along with emphasising the need to focus on people’s livelihoods and inclusive community development through the AlUla Framework.”

He added, "We have the mountains in the south, snow in the north, and five UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the Kingdom – sites that were built by civilizations from thousands of years ago, and it is important that the world comes to Saudi Arabia to see, experience and learn from these sites. Our aim is to make Saudi Arabia one of the top five most visited destinations in the world by 2030."


Keynote Speech

Zurab Pololikashvili (Secretary-General of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation) delivered an insightful and enlightening keynote speech, which was live streamed across the world.

One-On-One with CNN’s John Defterios

Gloria Guevara Manzo (CEO & President, World Travel & Tourism Council – WTTC) joined John Defterios (Business' Emerging Markets Editor and Anchor at CNN) to provide insights from the G20 Tourism Ministers Meeting.

Optimism, Courage – What it Takes to Lead in a Global Pandemic

  • Special Guest Speaker: Arne M. Sorenson (President & CEO, Marriott International)
  • Moderator: Stephen Sackur (Presenter, HARDTalk)

Innovating to Build Trust and Traveller Confidence

  • Special Guest Speakers: Arnold W. Donald (President & CEO, Carnival Corporation & PLC) and Christopher J. Nassetta(President & CEO, Hilton)
  • Moderator: Peter Greenberg (Travel Editor, CBS News)

Systemic Approach to Rewiring your Business to a Sustainable Model – How do you Re-think your Entire Business?

  • Special Guest Speakers: Sébastien Bazin (Chairman & CEO, Accor) and William McDonough, FAIA, INT. FRIBA (CEO, McDonough Innovation; Founding Partner, William McDonough + Partners)
  • Moderator: Ufi Ibrahim (Founder and Chief Executive, Energy and Environment Alliance)

How Will we Attract and Train Future Leaders and Young Talent During and After this Crisis?

  • Special Guest Speakers: Dr. Inès Blal (Executive Dean and Managing Director, École hôtelière de Lausanne (EHL)), Christian Clerc (President, Global Operations, Four Seasons), Wolfgang Lindlbauer (CEO, Lobster Ink) and Dr. Kate Walsh (Dean and E.M. Statler Professor, School of Hotel Administration, Cornell SC Johnson College of Business)
  • Moderator: Filip Boyen (CEO, Forbes Travel Guide)


One-On-One with CNN’s John Defterios

H.E. Khalid al-Falih (Minister of Investment, Saudi Arabia) will join John Defterios (Business' Emerging Markets Editor and Anchor at CNN) to discuss what it takes to attract new investments in the tourism industry.

Does Planning for the Next 5 years Make Sense in a Time of Crisis?

  • Special Guest Speakers: Federico J. González (CEO, Radisson Hotel Group) and Cyril Ranque (President of Travel Partners Group, Expedia Group)
  • Moderator: John Defterios (Business' Emerging Markets Editor and Anchor at CNN)

The Role of Innovation and Disruption for the Future of Tourism

  • Special Guest Speaker: Terry Jones (Founder, Travelocity.com, and Founding Chairman, Kayak.com)

Red Sea Development

  • John Pagano (CEO of the Red Sea Development Company) joins Jonathan Worsley (Chairman, Bench Events) to give the latest progress updates on Saudi Arabia’s flagship tourism project, and speaks on the importance of regenerating the destination.