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UNWTO praises ‘amazing’ tourism development

ABHA: The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has praised the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTNH) for its development projects across the country.
Omar Valdez, executive head of the UNWTO’s Themis Foundation, said that his organization was also working closely with the Kingdom to host several seminars, and supports a study on using tourism to boost local communities.
The UNWTO and the Kingdom have already held joint seminars on tourism related issues in Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam, said Valdez recently at a seminar held here.
He said he has been amazed at the significant development in Asir since he visited three years ago. More could be done to attract mountaineers and outdoor lovers to the region’s mountainous areas, he said.
Adel Radhi, deputy minister of tourism and UNWTO consultant, said he has been involved in several projects to develop Asir as a major tourist destination, including some in Souda, Al-Habla village, Tanumah and Al-Namas.
Radhi said there should be more organized programs and trips to the region, with guides. He also urged local businesspeople to contribute by investing in hotels, restaurants and cafes needed in the region.
He also praised Prince Sultan bin Salman, president of the SCTNH, for launching various tourist initiatives in the region and country, including the handicraft program.
Addis Sivash, a tourism expert with the UNWTO, said that there should be more promotion done on social networking sites, to keep the public informed of events taking place in the region.
She proposed that all programs and events should not only be held in Arabic, but also English, to attract larger numbers of local and international tourists.
The UNWTO delegation participated in the seminar on tourism developments in the region and visited various popular locations including Al-Muftaha village, Rijal village and Al-Souda park.