Following through with Saudi’s Vision 2030, King Salman bin Abdulaziz has decreed that 9 natural reserves be turned into tourist destinations.
Nature to preserve, investments to be made
Part nature preservation effort, part investment opportunity, this latest decree is the next in Saudi’s plan to revitalize their economy and diversify the Kingdom’s sources of income in line with the aforementioned Vision 2030.
While the decision seeks to protect Saudi’s natural landscapes from unethical practices such as deforestation, overfishing and overgrazing, the reserves also present a perfect tourist investment opportunity for the government. However, the reserves will not be fenced and will remain public spaces.
A flourishing tourist industry
In 2017, the travel and tourism industry brought in $71.3 billion into the country according to Statista. That marks a remarkable 8.5% increase from the previous year. One of the main contributors to this figure is the yearly religious pilgrimage of Hajj, where Muslims from around the world travel to the city of Mecca. According to The Inquirer, 1.75 million non-Saudis entered the country in 2017 to participate in Hajj, a number that no doubt contributed significantly to that year’s travel and tourism revenue figures.
King Salman has ordered the establishment of the Council of Royal Reserves which will be responsible for developing and promoting the 9 locations into tourist attractions. His son, Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, will be heading this Council.
Each of the 9 reserves will operate relatively independently, with each having their own management and budget. The Experts Commission at the Council of Ministers has 3 months to appoint qualified leaders to head each of the reserves.
With Statista forecasting a travel and tourism revenue sum of $160.5 billion by 2027, these reserves are bound to play a major role in boosting Saudi’s place as a prime tourist destination in the region.