The campaign for the second staging of the Saudi Excellence in Tourism Awards has kicked off in Riyadh. This year’s awards are scheduled to be presented to successful nominees in early April this year, in conjunction with the Saudi Travel and Tourism Investment Market (STTIM-2012), which is scheduled to be held at the Riyadh Exhibition Center. Submission of award nominations will be continued until next March.
The Excellence in Tourism Awards is an independently managed program run in conjunction with the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities. Six categories cover all key tourism sectors, including hotels, restaurants, the tourism industry and attractions, shopping malls, and people working in tourism such as tour guides and sales staff.
Development of the kingdom’s tourism and hospitality sectors is a key building block for diversification of the kingdom’s economy and specifically the employment of Saudi nationals. The combined industries are anticipated to contribute SR20billion to the country’s economy and to employ upwards of 2million Saudi’s by 2020. Linking with these significant government initiatives through sponsorship of the SETAs will help develop contacts, build business reputation, and reap valuable rewards.
In total, this year’s awards include more than twenty sub-categories, and building on the success of last year’s event, there are a number of new categories such as Tourism Sales Professional of the Year and Tourism Service Professional of the Year. With such a wide spread of categories, everyone involved in the tourism industry has the opportunity to secure a trophy, as in each sub-category a winner and a runner-up may be selected.
Winners for the awards are identified through a comprehensive system of online voting followed by judging by an international panel of judges. This year the judges include Mohamed Al Geziri, International Hotel Consultant; Leanne Arnold, Marketing Consultant; Guy Wilkinson, Tourism Consultant; Dr. Amal Al-Shaikh, Tourism and Hospitality Academic; Talal Dhulaymi, Branding and Communication Specialist; Dr, Abdulmohsen Al Hijji, Academic.
In this context, His Excellency Abdullah Al Jehani, Vice President of SCTA for Tourism, stated: “This award aims at spreading spirit of honest competition among different relevant sectors engaged in tourism services in the kingdom, as well as shedding a light on stages of continual progress in the Saudi tourism industry, which is in an increased development day by day. Besides, the award is considered as an annual recognition of the efforts of the excellent performance of the sectors in this area around the year.”
Commenting on the launch of this year’s awards, the head of the organizing committee, Barry Gray, stated: “These awards are an important strategic platform for the development and ongoing improvement of tourism services in the kingdom. It is also an excellent opportunity for companies to motivate their staff and market their services to the general public.”
The awards website www.sauditourismawards.com has been opened to accept nominations recently, and event organizers, Riyadh-based Alef International, report that nominations are being received in good numbers across all categories.
Outlining the nomination process, Gray continued: “Making an online nomination is very easy and can be made either by companies themselves, or by their employees. Also, happy customers can nominate their favorite hotel, restaurant, or member of staff for consideration.”