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Saudi Arabian tourism buoyed by domestic demand

The country saved jobs through its domestic tourism campaign

Tourism and travel leaders from Saudi Arabia convened at the ATM 2021 Saudi Arabia Tourism Summit on the Global Stage to discuss Vision 2030 and its positive repercussions for the country, its people, investors and millions of global travellers.

Addressing the gathering was 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.

Hamidaddin 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 at 28 domestic airports at 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 regional hub.

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