As tourism becomes a major driver of the Saudi economy with its huge employment-generating potential, Saudi Arabia has launched six major initiatives to stimulate the travel and tourism industry.
“The Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH) is reviewing its strategies to be in conformity with Vision 2030 and contribute in achieving the goals of the National Transformation Program (NTP) 2020,” said Mohammed Al-Nashmi, a spokesman of the SCTH.
Al-Nashmi pointed out that SAR9.93 billion ($2.64bn) have been allocated for these projects in the 2017 budget. According to a statement released by the SCTH, “the six initiatives are aimed at streamlining the travel and tourism sector.”
Religious tourism, including Haj and Umrah, has been a major revenue component of the sector. The statement said that one of the six initiatives is “The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Program for taking care of national culture and heritage.” A total of 79 projects will be implemented under this program.
“The Long Live Saudi Arabia Program is another initiative, while the development of Okaz city in Taif is yet another,” he added. Other initiatives include “the Kingdom as a Muslim destination initiative,” “the development of integrated tourism destinations,” and “the Kafalah program initiative” to finance commercial establishments for tourism projects.
While 18 million people visited the Kingdom in 2016, most of them came for pilgrimage. Hence, the SCTH plan is to promote its travel and tourism sector to foreign and domestic tourists. The Kingdom has a large number of interesting archaeological sites, pristine beaches, monuments, and a range of other holiday destinations. It is being promoted to become one of the biggest players in global tourism.
Tourism in Saudi Arabia is expected to generate around 1.2 million jobs for Saudis in the period until 2030. The tourism sector has been earmarked by the government as a key driver for growth in the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 economic diversification strategy. The travel and tourism is the second-largest Saudised sector in the country. It currently employs about 900,000 Saudis.
(This article originally appeared on Arab News)