WTM Virtual has unveiled Saudi as its registration sponsor, as the kingdom prepares to re-open its borders to international tourists in early 2021.
The sponsorship deal is a key element in the marketing strategy of the Saudi Tourism Authority, which will launch an international brand campaign over the coming months.
The campaign will promote the kingdom’s extensive range of unique attractions and experiences, including two UNESCO World Heritage sites: the desert tombs of Hegra – which open in November 2020 – and At-Turaif in the city of Diriyah, part of a $20 billion cultural and heritage development.
Tourism is a key pillar in ‘Vision 2030’ – an ambitious strategy to diversify the economy of Saudi and develop other sectors.
A key element of this vision is for tourism to make up 10% of Saudi’s GDP by 2030, compared to 3% today – in addition, one million new jobs will be created within Saudi’s tourism sector over the next decade, taking total tourism employment to 1.6 million.
The Saudi Tourism Authority anticipates visitor numbers will grow in 2021, from local, regional and international markets, with a goal to become a top-five tourism destination by 2030.
Fahd Hamidaddin, CEO, Saudi Tourism Authority said:
“We have seen excellent results with the domestic tourism market this year.
“In June we launched ‘Saudi Summer’, the kingdom’s largest-ever domestic tourism campaign which encouraged Saudis and other local residents to explore the country.”
The campaign promoted attractions such as the Red Sea coastline, the Sarawat Mountains, Riyadh’s Old Town and the historic coastal city of Jeddah.
Tourism spending rose by 33% year-on-year while peak hotel occupancy in destinations such as Abha and King Abdullah Economic City reached almost 100%.
Mr. Hamidaddin added:
“In 2021, we plan to further engage our domestic market and safely re-open to international tourists with our offering better than ever.
“We are currently developing our winter campaign, which will bring new visitor experiences to market that are true to the authentic spirit of Arabia.”
More than 80% of the world’s population is within an eight-hour flight of Saudi Arabia, and its top source markets are Europe, North America, India, China and the Middle East.
“Our offer focuses on delivering authentically Arabian adventure, culture and heritage underpinned by remarkable hospitality.
“We attract travelers who are ready to experience a destination rich in cultural adventures and stunning landscapes, unexplored by many.”
The tourism industry is also working closely with the Ministry of Health on health and safety standards across the kingdom.
“The pandemic has highlighted a need to continually innovate, with the importance of using technology to enable seamless travel coming to the fore,” said Mr. Hamidaddin.
Free healthcare is provided for citizens and visitors affected by COVID-19 and the Saudi e-Visa process is 100% digital, reducing the number of touchpoints for travelers.”
Simon Press, WTM Virtual Senior Director, said:
“We were delighted to have a major contingent from Saudi at last year’s WTM, when the kingdom was making several important announcements about its tourism plans.
“And we’re excited again this year to welcome the Saudi Tourism Authority as our registration sponsor, to keep generating publicity and awareness about this fascinating destination.
“Alongside the Saudi Tourism Authority, there are 29 exhibitors showcasing the unique attractions, hotels, tours, experiences and developments that will be part of the sector’s international revival in 2021 and beyond.”