This article is sponsored by Saudi Arabia.
Tourism may be on hold, but Saudi Arabia is working hard to ensure we are ready to receive visitors again when international travel resumes.
We know there is a strong appetite to visit the Kingdom. We issued more than 500,000 tourism visas in the three months following their introduction, making Saudi Arabia the fastest-growing destination in the world.
But with the onset of COVID-19, we had to quickly adapt to a new reality. We are making careful preparations to ensure the safety and wellbeing of our visitors, deliver quality travel experiences, and maximize the economic benefit of tourism for the Kingdom.
Collaboration is key
Saudi Arabia today is witnessing a new era in all sectors of the economy. An era in which there is maximum participation from both the public and private sectors in developing strategic growth industries. Within tourism, the sector with perhaps the greatest potential for socio-economic transformation, growth is spearheaded by private enterprise, while being empowered and enabled by the government.
Saudi Arabia holds the presidency of the G20 this year. In that capacity, we are working with tourism authorities across the G20 nations, as well as with organizations including the OECD, the UNWTO, the WTTC, to formulate a coordinated international response to the pandemic and prepare for a safe reopening of the travel and tourism sector.
Here in the Kingdom, we are partnering with the Ministries of Health, Sports, Commerce and Municipalities, to develop the necessary regulations and infrastructure to support the industry. And we are working with Saudi-run tour operators and travel companies to develop and bring to market compelling tourism packages in preparation for the reopening of the sector.
Our approach to supporting the Saudi travel and tourism ecosystem falls into three broad areas of activity:
- Short term support: the stimulus packages the Government has rolled out across the Kingdom are crucial to keeping small- and medium-size enterprises afloat during these tough times.
- Capacity building: we are working closely with entities on product and staff development, so they are ready to welcome local and international visitors.
- Partnerships: we are bringing together players from across the ecosystem to develop compelling, integrated packages that offer memorable travel experiences.
We anticipate that the tourism sector will reopen in phases, with domestic tourism likely to be the first to feel the benefit of relaxed travel restrictions. We want to encourage local residents to explore Saudi’s varied tourism offering and discover the unique treasures on their doorstep.
We are working with local DMCs, hotels, consultants and others in the travel trade industry, to put together a compelling offer that shows local residents how much there is to do in their own country.
Connecting with the world
We are optimistic about the future of tourism in the Kingdom. With the rest of the world, we look forward to the borders opening and welcoming visitors to enjoy our renowned hospitality. Until such a time, it is events such as Arabian Travel Market, where we can continue to connect with our peers and partners, even virtually, that keep us moving forward and looking ahead.