Saudi Arabia develops tourism offering
by Jessica Pook
Saudi Arabia is looking to position itself as a ‘top tourism destination’ with new tourist attractions and relaxed visa requirements.
The initiatives follow Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 plan, which aims to reduce the country’s dependence on oil and increase international and domestic visits to 100 million a year by 2030.
In September, Saudi Arabia expanded its visa programme to 49 countries, including the UK, making it increasingly easier for visitors to travel to the kingdom.
To further encourage visitors, the country is developing Experience AlUla, a new campaign designed to showcase Saudi Arabia's newest tourism destination, due to open to the public in October 2020.
AlUla is a culturally and historically rich site housing the remains of an ancient city with forts which are older than the pyramids of Egypt. It has previously only been open to the public for the annual Winter in Tantora music festival.
Using the latest in VR technology, WTM visitors were able to get a glimpse at the desert valleys, ancient rock formations and canyons that will be accessible to the public next year.
To support the influx of visitors expected, hotel and resort brand Aman is to develop three luxury resorts in AlUla, with the first due to open in 2023.
Speaking at the AlUla stand at WTM, Kholoud Almanea, Royal Commission for AlUla, said: “We are really excited for visitors to come and see what the destination has to offer. People will be surprised by the luxury offering, outstanding hospitality and spectacular scenery that will make their stay incomparable to anywhere else in the world.”