Saudi Arabian tourism buoyed by increasing domestic demand - GulfToday

Saudi Arabian tourism buoyed by increasing domestic demand


Abdul Aziz Bin Humaid Al Nuaimi is being briefed during his visit to the ATM on Tuesday.

Sajjad Ahmad, Gulf Today

As Saudi Arabia forges ahead with Vision 2030, with tourism earmarked as a key economic driver, tourism and travel leaders from the Kingdom convened at the ATM 2021 Saudi Arabia Tourism Summit on the Global Stage to discuss the strategy’s positive repercussions for the country, its people, investors and millions of global travellers.

Addressing a capacity crowd at the in-person ATM 2021, the region’s largest travel and tourism showcase, were Fahd Hamidaddin, CEO, Saudi Tourism Authority, Majed Alnefaie, Acting CEO of Seera, Captain Ibrahim Koshy, CEO, Saudi Arabian Airlines (SAUDIA), and Dr Afnan Al Shuaiby, Founder and CEO of FNN International and Chair of the Arab International Women’s Forum.

The audience heard how Saudi Arabia is preparing to reopen its borders for foreign tourists imminently, and it is well on its way to realising its ambition for attracting 100 million tourists per year by 2030.

Fahd Hamidaddin, CEO of Saudi Tourism Authority, discussed the Kingdom’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, having just opened up to international tourism in September 2019: “While the travel and tourism sector was paralysed globally, Saudi Arabia kept moving. Although the priority was to save lives, we were also committed to protecting livelihoods and saving jobs through our successful domestic tourism campaign, which resulted in a 33% increase in spending, hotel occupancy was at 50%, and the number of Destination Marketing Companies (DMCs) within the Kingdom increased from 17 to 93.”

The domestic market strength was underscored in 2020 and Q1 2021, with SAUDIA operating its 28 domestic airports at close to 80% of its 2019 levels, and demand exceeding capacity at times. The numbers are expected to pick up even further with the recent resumption of international travel for residents and citizens and the operation of the new King Abdulaziz International Airport (KAIA) as a true regional hub.

Discussing the outlook for SAUDIA, CEO Captain Ibrahim Koshy said: “There are many things taking place in Saudi Arabia that will accelerate a return to profit for the airline. We will come out much leaner and stronger as a business, with expected profitability in 2024, if not earlier, as the potential market for the Kingdom continues to grow at a fast pace. We may also see aircraft orders this year to meet that expected demand in capacity.”

The second session of the ATM Saudi Arabia Tourism Summit on the ATM Global Stage explored the “giga-project effect”, from developments that preserve and promote the Kingdom’s heritage, culture and natural assets to theme parks, futuristic cities in the desert and luxury resorts with a strong focus on sustainability.

“This was a great opportunity for panellists to reveal how the country is setting new global industry benchmarks and for the travel trade industry to meet the business leaders playing a pivotal role in delivering Vision 2030 by spearheading ambitious projects that will set Saudi Arabia apart as a destination like no other,” said Danielle Curtis, Exhibition Director ME, Arabian Travel Market,

Ajman Tourism at ATM: Sheikh Abdul Aziz Bin Humaid Al Nuaimi, Chairman of Ajman Tourism Devel-opment Department (ATDD), visited the department’s pavilion participating at the Arabian Travel Market 2021 exhibition in Dubai.

Sheikh Abdul Aziz Bin Humaid Al Nuaimi was informed of the major touristic ac-tivities carried out by the emirate of Ajman, the cultural and touristic resources it possesses, and the unique touristic experiences it offers to its visitors that reinforce the emirate’s position as a leading destination on the world tourism map.

Sheikh Abdul Aziz Al Nuaimi affirmed that the emirate of Ajman has strengthened its competitive position on the tourism map by providing many splendid touristic and recreational destinations that offer visitors and residents a wide array of unique experiences that combine the authentic heritage of the Emirates with its environmental diversity and charming nature, making it an ideal haven for lovers of entertainment activities enthusiasts.

Al Nuaimi focused on the role delegated to the department of tourism development in shedding light on the cultural and touristic re-sources the emirate possesses by launching several initiatives and programs that contribute to boosting its tourism sector, the latest of which is the “Self-Classification System” which is considered a unique digital system that allows ho-tels and accommodations to self-classify their units according to the new classification standards set by Ajman Tourism Development Department.

The first launch phase will include only hotels and accommodations, with expan-sion plans to include other sectors in the future. The system introduces the concept of corporate social responsibility to control and interact with businesses, integration of environmental and sustainable standards with identification tools, in addition to features for measuring and organizing customer feedbacks, displaying detailed information about the status of each tourism business in terms of mainte-nance, cleanliness, and design. This system is a platform built on accurate reports and data that provide a real-time overview of a business’s performance according to its classification category, whether individually or generally in the Emirate of Ajman.

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