Saudis to staycation this summer as Kingdom reopens for domestic travel

Asir region is blessed with attractive nature and weather. (Supplied)
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Updated 19 June 2020

Saudis to staycation this summer as Kingdom reopens for domestic travel

  • About 80 percent of citizens interested in visiting local destinations

JEDDAH: Saudis have welcomed a government announcement that the Kingdom is reopening for domestic tourism, after coronavirus restrictions put a stop to travel for months.
Saudi Tourism Minister Ahmed Al-Khatib told Al-Arabiya news channel that the ministry was launching a rich domestic tourism program in the summer, saying that 80 percent of citizens shared their interest in visiting local destinations within their country instead of traveling abroad as they usually would.
“We have started to see indicators for some countries in the world that have started to resume tourism, and Saudi Arabia will resume as well at the end of Shawwal (June 21) for 24 hours except for Makkah. We are ready to launch the summer program, we have a rich domestic tourism program in the summer. We did some research and heard from citizens that 80 percent of them want domestic tourism in the summer instead of international tourism.”
He added that the ministry would release the program to the public after it was approved by the Health Ministry and top committees.
Arab News spoke to Saudis who are planning staycations once the sector unlocks.
“I’m team staycation,” 25-year-old Mohammed Alhumaidhi told Arab News. “I’m a guy who loves hunting, fishing and out-of-reach areas.”
He had a few destinations in mind to visit with family and friends, including NEOM city, but said he would not be able to travel for leisure any time soon as he had some business trips to make first.
Fatimah Saleh said that she had been planning to visit Abha, in southwest Saudi Arabia, for a while and would do so as soon as the ministry’s plan came into effect.
“I have been nagging my kids to actually move to the south and live there, but they would never leave Jeddah,” the 54-year-old housewife told Arab News. “So we decided to at least visit the capital city of Asir province, Abha.”
Ahmed Sorour, 29, also wanted to visit the south for its “famous nature” but had additional reasons for wanting to stay local.
“I don’t think I’ll be able to afford a vacation outside the country after the salary reduction, and I’m still worried because of the pandemic,” he told Arab News.
Adnan Jamil, who is 31 and a flight attendant, said that his constant traveling meant he had already been able to visit different countries and cities before the pandemic hit. 
“To be honest, I only visited a few cities in my country and I’m ashamed of that as I didn’t get a full picture of my own country,” he told Arab News, saying he wanted to go on a road trip around the Kingdom’s regions with friends.
Abdan Al-Abdan, 29, likes domestic and international tourism. He cited a few factors that influenced an individual or a family’s decision about spending holidays at home or abroad. These included the availability of entertaining and suitable activities, mobility, accessibility, and most importantly cost.
The activities needed to be easily accessible and have the necessary transport and accommodation in order to be attractive for domestic or international tourists, he said.
“The cost of the activity and what it entails is a crucial factor, especially if the desired activity is not unique to a certain location and can be experienced (elsewhere) through a number of other options,” he told Arab News.
Al-Khatib, who heads the current session of the Arab Ministerial Council for Tourism, said that more than 80 million employees in the Arab tourism sector, or part of them, were at risk of losing their jobs due to the repercussions of the global COVID-19 crisis.
The Arab Ministerial Council for Tourism held an emergency meeting on Wednesday and discussed challenges facing the region’s tourism sector due to the pandemic, and ways to overcome the repercussions and stimulate the tourism sector.


Drop in COVID-19 daily deaths as 30 die in Saudi Arabia

Updated 11 July 2020

Drop in COVID-19 daily deaths as 30 die in Saudi Arabia

  • Ten percent of all new cases were recorded in Riyadh
  • A total of 2,181 people have succumbed to the virus in the Kingdom so far

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia recorded 30 deaths from COVID-19 on Saturday, the lowest daily rate in the Kingdom for a week.
The health ministry also confirmed 2,994 new confirmed cases of the disease.
Ten percent of all new cases were recorded in Riyadh with the capital reporting 285 cases. Hufof recorded 226 new cases, Jeddah 221, Dammam 211 and Taif 152.
The total number of recoveries in the Kingdom increased to 165,396 after 2,370 more patients recovered from the virus.
A total of 2,181 people have succumbed to the virus in the Kingdom so far.