‘Authentic’ Tourism in Saudi Arabia

21 May 2019   |  Saudi

The government of Saudi Arabia has launched a major initiative which maps out 11 key tourism seasons for the Kingdom. Announced by the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH), the initiative called “Saudi Seasons 2019” is aiming to target cultural, sporting, historical and other attractions in Saudi Arabia, drawing large numbers of visitors. Through this initiative, the government hopes to provide the road map for future tourism strategies as well as help to create new job opportunities.

The initiative is a collaboration between several Saudi government departments under the leadership of higher committee headed by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and has been going since mid-2018. Among the main government bodies that have worked together are the Ministry of Culture, the General Entertainment Authority, the General Sports Authority, and the Saudi Exhibition and Convention Bureau.

saudi arabia tourism

Source: unsplash

The Kingdom’s Eastern Province will be the focus of the first season and is projected to get underway in mid-March 2019. While other tourism drives will center during Ramadan, Eid Al-Fitr, the cities of Jeddah and Taif, Eid-Al-Adha, NAtional Day, Riyadh, Ad Diriyah, Al-Ula, and Hail. Several programs which are designed to promote Saudi regions and cities with special cultural, tourist and historical features are included in the first year of the project. Along with high-quality services, accomodation, and transportation in the targeted centers, sporting and recreational events will also be highlighted.

As stated by Ahmad Al-Khateeb, President of the SCTH, “Saudi Seasons 2019” initiative would play a key role to develop Saudi Arabia’s tourism sector, provide temporary and permanent jobs in the process. The Kingdom is rich of important tourism assets, such as stunning natural landscapes, original Arab culture, prominent historical sites and also supported by well-developed infrastructures. This project is a first step as well as an experimental test, for the “Saudi Seasons 2020” is planned to be announced by the end of 2019.

Al-Baha, the favorite destination

The SCTH in the Kingdom’s Al-Baha region, known for its scenic beauty with wildlife areas, forests, valleys and mountains, has started inspections plans for the summer vacation season. The plan is focusing on supervision of tourism facilities, as well as ensuring the best tourist services for residents and visitors to one of the most popular tourist destinations in Saudi Arabia.

The preparations will include field tours for inspecting tourism facilities in the region, including hotels, travel and tour agencies, and furnished apartments, according to Zahir bin Mohamed Al-Shehri, secretary-general of Al-Baha Tourism Development Council. In addition the inspection will also include license checks, and responses to complaints and feedback from tourists and customers.

Moreover, the Zee Ain village in the region as included recently on a tentative list within the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) after King Salman approved its nomination in 2015. Since then, the tourism authority has established a multimillion-dollar comprehensive restoration plan for the village, planning to make it tourist friendly and shed light on its famous, locally made products.

A home to dwellings made of polished stone, four stories high, and a famous mosque, the village is said to be more than 400 years old and was given its name from the permanent water source which flows into the area from nearby valleys. In addition to restoration and construction projects, the development plan also includes carrying out research studies, aiming to highlight the city’s unique architecture and the raw material with which doors and windows are made.

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