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42% of Brits would consider going on holiday in Saudi Arabia

The Best in the Industry honored at WTM London
The Best in the Industry honored at WTM London
Written by Harry Johnson

Saudi Arabia ran a successful domestic tourism campaign in 2020, and visitor numbers are expected to pick up further with the recent resumption of international travel.

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Saudi Arabia’s burgeoning tourism industry is set to get back on track to reach its ambitious targets, as four in 10 Brits say they would consider holidaying in the kingdom, reveals research released today (Monday 1 November) by WTM London.

The destination will see a boost to its plans this week as a host of travel companies say they are likely to sign business deals with Saudi Arabian firms at WTM London, which starts today and continues until Wednesday 3 November.

The optimistic outlook comes from the findings of two WTM London polls, one conducted among British consumers and the other with international travel trade professionals, which make up the WTM Industry Report.

The poll of 1,000 consumers found 42% of UK adults would consider going on holiday in Saudi Arabia. Another 19% said it would be unlikely but could be persuaded.

The poll of 676 trade professionals from countries around the world found that just over half (51%) were planning to have business conversations with Saudi enterprises at WTM London this week.

It was the most-cited destination, ahead of Italy in second place (48%) and Greece (38%).

The trade respondents also said they were likely to sign contracts with companies from Saudi Arabia, with the country scoring 3.9 out of five – again, the highest likelihood in the poll.

Furthermore, 40% of respondents said they are likely (30% extremely likely; 10% likely) to agree a contract with Saudi Arabia/Saudi Arabian organizations at WTM London.

The kingdom has been ramping up its trade activity in 2021 after the lockdowns of 2020.

Before 2019, tourism visas in Saudi Arabia were largely restricted to business travelers, expatriate workers and pilgrims visiting the cities of Mecca and Medina.

The country opened its borders to international tourists with the launch of its e-visa program in September 2019.

On August 1, 2021, Saudi Arabia welcomed back tourists 18 months after tourism was suspended due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

It has set an ambitious target of 100 million tourists by 2030, as part of efforts to diversify its economy beyond fossil fuels.

As well as being home to Mecca and Medina, Islam’s two holiest cities, the country is developing “giga-projects” to develop the kingdom’s heritage, culture and natural assets as well as theme parks and luxury resorts.

Operators such as Explore now offer escorted tours in the country and its cruise sector is developing too – MSC Cruises and Emerald Cruises plan to operate itineraries featuring Saudi Arabia in the coming months.

And the Saudi Arabian city of AlUla has launched a travel trade hub and online training platform to help build awareness of the destination among UK travel agents.

Fahd Hamidaddin, Chief Executive of Saudi Tourism Authority addressed tourism industry professionals at ATM 2021 – the sister event of WTM London.

He said Saudi Arabia ran a successful domestic tourism campaign in 2020, and visitor numbers are expected to pick up further with the recent resumption of international travel.

As well as developing its tourism credentials, the kingdom is investing in global sports events to raise its profile.

In 2019, it hosted Anthony Joshua’s world heavyweight title fight and will stage its first Grand Prix race next month (December 2021) in the city of Jeddah

Simon Press, WTM London Exhibition Director, said: “It will be most encouraging for the Saudi delegation at WTM London to read the positive findings from both our consumer and travel trade polls. They both suggest that the massive investments in tourism are already paying dividends, and the deals that will be struck at WTM London will certainly help the destination along the way to reaching its ambitious targets.”

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About the author

Harry Johnson

Harry Johnson has been the assignment editor for eTurboNews for almost 20 years. He lives in Honolulu, Hawaii, and is originally from Europe. He enjoys writing and covering the news.

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