Destination Briefing: Saudi Arabia sets out ambitious tourism plans with ‘giga’ projects

Destination Briefing: Saudi Arabia sets out ambitious tourism plans with ‘giga’ projects

Saudi Arabia hopes to attract more travellers from around the world with a series of ‘giga projects’ that will add to its wide range of tourism offerings.

The Saudi Tourism Authority (STA) outlined its current attractions and major leisure developments during a session at WTM Virtual.

The kingdom will open up to overseas travellers again in early 2021 and boasts six international airports with access to three continents within a few hours’ flight time.

Matteo Prato, consultant for STA, said a host of ‘giga projects’ were being developed, including the desert tombs of Al Ula and Diriyah Gate, a multibillion-dollar cultural and heritage development.

These are in addition to varied attractions across the destination, such as the Red Sea coastline, the mountains of Tabuk and Al Baha, the capital Riyadh, Umluj Beach and Jeddah.

Saudi Arabia will also host important sporting events in 2021, such as the Dakar rally and Formula 1 Grand Prix race.

Bruno Wiley, International Commercial Vice-President for the STA, said more than 20 offices will have been opened in key tourism markets around the world by the end of this year as part of the drive to develop trade partnerships.

The UK and Ireland are primary markets and there are three target audiences: leisure travellers, Umrah pilgrims and MICE (meetings, incentive, conference and events) business.

Nimit Amin, UK & Ireland Commercial Director at the STA, said he anticipates the stopover traffic that was seen before the pandemic will return, enabling visitors to take short breaks to experience the destination’s heritage, culture and scenery.

Prato said e-visas are available for 49 nationalities and the ‘abaya’ traditional dress for women is not required for overseas visitors.

WTM Virtual has unveiled Saudi as its registration sponsor, as the kingdom prepares to launch an international brand campaign over the coming months.

Tourism is a key pillar in ‘Vision 2030’ – an ambitious strategy to diversify the economy of Saudi and develop other sectors.

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