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Saudi Arabian tourism buoyed by domestic demand as it prepares to welcome foreign tourists

Saudi Arabian tourism buoyed by domestic demand as it prepares to welcome foreign tourists
Written by Harry Johnson

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

  • Fahd Hamidaddin, CEO, Saudi Tourism Authority addressed travel and tourism industry professionals at the ATM 2021 Saudi Arabia Tourism Summit
  • Travel and tourism industry in Saudi Arabia remained buoyant throughout 2020 and Q1 2021 due to success of domestic tourism campaign, says tourism chief
  • SAUDIA to return to profitability by 2024, if not earlier, according to the airline’s CEO

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 yesterday to discuss the strategy’s positive repercussions for the country, its people, investors and millions of global travelers.

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 realizing 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 paralyzed 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.