Riyadh, Saudi Arabia — At a time of significant transformation, Saudi Arabia stands on the cusp of a new dawn. Its economic, social, and cultural arenas are witnessing momentous shifts under the ambit of the audacious Vision 2030.
Nestled within these shifts is an industry poised to become an engine of economic growth – tourism. With the intention to draw in 100 million local and international visitors annually by 2030, the Kingdom is pulling out all the stops to propel itself onto the global tourism stage.
The figures speak for themselves. Saudi Arabia plans to infuse over US$1 trillion into the tourism sector over the next decade, an ambition loudly echoed in recent government announcements. The goal? To bolster the Kingdom’s presence on the global tourism map as one of the most frequented destinations.
Travel firms help Saudi tourists in five key areas • Promotion: Travel companies have the ability to customize their messages to target their respective source markets effectively, adding a 'call to action' for relevant prospective visitors. Furthermore, travel companies deeply understand consumer behavior across all media channels, such as social media. • Travel packages: Travel companies can also offer travel packages, which is especially important in emerging destinations like Saudi Arabia. Visitors are looking for an end-to-end experience, including flights, hotels, transportation, and experiences. • Public-private collaboration: Travel companies can enable public sector entities in Saudi Arabia by providing new technology, data sources, and co-investments. • Local supplier development: Travel companies also improve the performance of local suppliers through competition and partnerships. • Sustainable development: World-leading travel companies are well-versed in dealing with strict requirements on sustainable development, ensuring Saudi Arabia stays in line with global best practices.
Fueling this ambition is an intricate web of travel companies, including tour operators, airlines, accommodation providers, cruise lines, and destination management companies (DMCs). These companies are crucial cogs in the grand tourism machine, each contributing in unique ways towards marketing Saudi tourism and wooing tourists.
“The promotion, creation of travel packages, public-private collaboration, local supplier development, and sustainable development are the five key areas where travel companies prove to be invaluable,” explains Patrick Samaha, Principal at Kearney Middle East & Africa, Government, and Economic Development Practice.
He further adds, travel companies’ innate understanding of consumer behavior across media channels, coupled with their ability to tailor effective ‘call to action’ messages to potential visitors, is an asset to the tourism industry.
Travel companies often work hand in glove with tourism boards, local authorities, and hospitality providers to orchestrate tours, develop itineraries, and arrange accommodations. Tracy Lanza, Group Head of Global Brand Development at RSG, appreciates these collaborations.
“We highly value our travel company partners, who tirelessly promote Saudi Arabia as a tourist destination through various channels. They create alluring travel packages, generate captivating online content, and leverage social media to spotlight the country’s immense tourism offerings,” she said.
The Saudi tourism ecosystem is a vibrant mix of government entities, investment funds, and private companies. The Saudi tourism ecosystem is a vibrant mix of government entities, investment funds, and private companies. In the public sector, the Ministry of Tourism sets the overall strategy for the tourism sector, including investment strategies, licensing, and regulations.
The Saudi Tourism Authority plays a crucial role in promoting Saudi Arabia globally, forging commercial partnerships, and attracting visitors from around the world.
Additionally, the Tourism Development Fund established last June 2020 executes the investment strategy and provides necessary funding for the sector’s development, with a mission to empower the Kingdom’s most rapidly growing industries – for instance by supporting financially local citizens to transform their farm or rural lodge into a touristic attraction.
The private sector is another important player. “A diverse range of companies contribute to the customer journey in the private sector.” This includes tour operators and online travel agents involved in pre-travel arrangements, local and international airlines facilitating connectivity and travel, destination management companies (DMCs), cruises, hotels, and experience providers, global media, and travel influencers, all dedicated to ensuring a remarkable tourist experience while visiting Saudi Arabia.” Samaha told TRENDS.
On the other hand, one of the major local tourism players in Saudi Arabia include the Public Investment Fund (PIF) which is financing the development of projects in the Kingdom, such as, The Red Sea and Amaala destinations, said Lanza.