‘Saudi Summer’ plan aims to kick-start Kingdom’s tourism industry

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Updated 26 June 2020

‘Saudi Summer’ plan aims to kick-start Kingdom’s tourism industry

  • As lockdown is relaxed, ministry launches initiative to boost domestic tourism using the slogan ‘tanaffas,’ or ‘breathe’

RIYADH: In an effort to kick-start tourist activity as the Kingdom begins to emerge from the coronavirus lockdown, the Saudi Ministry of Tourism is launching a “Saudi Summer” initiative with the slogan “tanaffas,” which is Arabic for breathe.
The plans for the initiative, which aims to promote domestic tourism, were discussed during a virtual press conference on Wednesday. They include the implementation of strict safety protocols to protect tourists.
Tourism Minister Ahmed Al-Khateeb announced the campaign in a virtual press conference on Wednesday.
“Saudi Summer comes as a wonderful opportunity to discover multiple tourist destinations in Saudi Arabia, alongside its historical, natural and cultural treasures,” he said. “The campaign also contributes to enhancing efforts by the Ministry of Tourism to revive the tourism sector, which was most affected by the repercussions of the COVID-19 crisis.”
He also said that the ministry is working on a series of reforms in a number of sectors to improve the tourism options available to people within the country.
“We are working toward political reforms, social reforms and economic reforms,” he said, adding that a committee of ministers responsible for these sectors will meet four times a year to minimize the obstacles to achieving the tourism goals.
“The amount of work that is currently being done is humongous, and we will begin to reap the benefits of this labor within two or three years,” Al-Khateeb said.
Fahad Hamidaddin, the chief of investment, strategy and tourism marketing, said the ministry carried out an extensive survey on tourism about a month ago.

This provided crucial information that is being used to decide the best course of action to support the tourism industry as the coronavirus lockdown is relaxed and life gradually begins to return to normal in the Kingdom.
“When we polled people on whether or not they wanted to leave the Kingdom for the summer, 81 percent replied in the negative, despite the fact that about 63 percent of them wanted to go out and have fun,” said Hamidaddin.
According to the same survey, 57 percent of Saudi residents were concerned about traveling on holiday by plane, but 85 percent were still planning to take a break of around 10 days this year. The survey also showed that 78 percent were curious about exploring their own country.
“A lot of tourism companies were afraid of the impact the COVID-19 pandemic would have on their business. When we showed them the data, we were able to get them on board with our plans and further one of our ultimate goals, which is to empower local businesses in the industry.

“We found that people are looking for coastlines (and) mountain ranges (to visit), and passed this sort of information on to local tourism companies.
“The pandemic has left people feeling stifled. Our role is to turn that feeling into something that could help them relax. People just want to breathe right now,” he added, which provided the inspiration for the Saudi Summer slogan.
From Jun. 25 to Sept. 30, the campaign is promoting 10 domestic destinations: Jeddah and the King Abdullah Economic City, Abha, Tabuk, Alkhobar, Dammam and Ahsa, Baha, Taif, Yanbu and Umluj, and Riyadh.
The ministry hopes that the diversity of these locations, which between them offer fertile valleys, quiet beaches, dense forests, cool climates, mountains, vibrant cities, historic villages and more, will encourage travelers to visit multiple destinations and take advantage of the different packages and activities available.
While foreign travel is still on hold because of the global pandemic, domestic flights resumed in Saudi Arabia at the beginning of this month. However, COVID-19 remains a serious threat and therefore safety protocols must be strictly followed.

Mohammed Al-Modhayan, a marketing adviser to the ministry, said that all possible precautions are being taken to ensure the safety of Saudi citizens and residents traveling within the Kingdom.
“The protocols in place have been set in accordance with guidance and approval from the Ministry of Health, and executed by the Ministry of Tourism, which is also responsible for providing licenses to companies such as hotels and tourist attractions,” he said.
“Any of those companies will need to follow said guidelines to obtain and retain their licenses.”
Al-Khateeb remained optimistic about the future, expressing his confidence in Saudi Arabia’s ability to move past the crisis once the worst was over.
“The tourism sector resumes its activities with a renewed spirit and great hopes for moving forward at an accelerated pace, to achieve our aspirations in harmony with Saudi Vision 2030, which seeks to pursue economic diversification, attract investments, increase revenues and create job opportunities for citizens,” he said.
Many Saudis, who had been waiting to explore their country’s hidden beauty, have welcomed the government’s decision to focus on domestic tourism.
 

Dr. Sakher Al-Qahtani, a dentist living in Riyadh, had the time of his life vacationing in Abha this summer after the lockdown was lifted.
He recommended the place to anyone looking for a place to start domestic tourism experience.
Al-Qahtani said Abha had changed dramatically since the ministry started developing Saudi Arabia into a tourist destination and regulating tourism activities.
“The shops, restaurants, and cafes here are on a par with what you would find in Riyadh,” he told Arab News.
“And the activities on offer have also received a significant upgrade. You can go hiking or hang-gliding in the mountains, or take a day trip to one of the nearby villages for a tour of incredibly well-preserved historical sights. And even the beach isn’t that far away by car, only about three hours.”


Global organizations commend Saudi Arabia’s role in e-learning

Updated 23 October 2020

Global organizations commend Saudi Arabia’s role in e-learning

JEDDAH: Six international organizations have completed two studies on e-learning in the Kingdom and praised its efforts in providing a rapid response, multiple options and continuous improvement during the coronavirus pandemic.
The studies involved the participation of 342,000 respondents and were conducted under the supervision of the Kingdom’s National Center for e-Learning.
The center said that the global organizations completed two comprehensive studies on the experience of public and higher education in Saudi Arabia during the pandemic, with the aim of documenting and studying the reality of the experience and coming up with initiatives to develop e-learning practices in accordance with current global practices and standards.
The studies were conducted with the participation of students, faculty members, teachers, parents and school leaders.
The number of participants in the public education study reached 318,000, while the number of participants in the higher education study reached 24,000.
The first study was prepared by the Online Learning Consortium (OLC), with the participation of the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), Quality Matters (QM), the UNESCO Institute of Information Technologies in Education (IITE), the National Research Center for Distance Education and Technological Advancements (DETA) in the US.
The second study was prepared by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) with the cooperation of the Harvard Graduate School
of Education.
In the studies, reference comparisons were made with more than 193 countries. The two studies showed the Kingdom’s distinction in the diversity of options, including, for example, electronic content and satellite channels available for e-learning in public education.

NUMBER

342k

The studies on e-learning involved the participation of 342,000 respondents and were conducted under the supervision of the Kingdom’s National Center for e-Learning.

The percentage of countries that succeeded in providing these at the national level was only 38 percent.
The study conducted by the OECD and the Harvard Graduate School of Education included a comparison of the Kingdom’s response to education during the COVID-19 pandemic with 37 member states.
The results showed the Kingdom’s progress in 13 out of 16 indicators on the average of
these countries.
The study also revealed that teachers received significant support to overcome obstacles to e-learning.
The study of public education indicated that there was a clear strategy for the Ministry of Education to reopen schools in the Kingdom and address any issues.
OLC hailed the efforts of the Saudi Ministry of Education in dealing with the crisis by providing a variety of options for e-learning, and the quick response to the pandemic and immediate shift to remote instruction.
The two studies recommended 71 proposed development initiatives for public education and 78 proposed development initiatives for higher education.
The National Center for e-Learning is working in coordination with the Ministry of Education to present the initiatives and begin their implementation.
The center announced that the organizations that conducted the studies would publish their results and complete the second phase at the end of the current semester.