JEDDAH: The Saudi Tourism Authority (STA) announced the start of its latest season of adventures on Dec. 10, which will continue until March 2021, offering 300 touristic experiences in 17 destinations in the Kingdom with the involvement of 200 private sector establishments.
Tourism Minister Ahmed Al-Khateeb said that the winter season is an extension of the efforts of the Saudi tourism system with its partners in the state and private sectors.
He promised that the lineup of activities will provide a wonderful tourism experience, through which visitors get to enjoy the great winter climate and the geographical diversity of the Kingdom.
The minister also reassured visitors that the STA is extremely keen on coordinating with health authorities to implement precautionary measures against COVID-19 in order to ensure a safe tourism experience.
Meanwhile, STA CEO Fahd Hamidaddin said: “The authority’s efforts and initiatives are continuous with the launch of the Saudi winter season under the slogan ‘Winter is Around You’.”
He noted the important role the media would play in reflecting the positive image of the tourism potentials for the Kingdom: “We count a lot on the creativity and efforts of the media to present the bright image of what the Kingdom has to offer; its charming nature and rich cultural heritage, the generosity and hospitality of its people, and its many landmarks, sites, and destinations that contribute into make the Kingdom a unique experience for all.”
After a tough year, many are excited about the new adventure.
“With the tough year behind us, it was interesting to see what Saudi Arabia had to offer,” said 34-year-old Sawsan Khalid M. told Arab News. “My husband was keen on going on a trip this year no matter what. We were afraid at first, with the pandemic and all, but the relevant authorities wouldn’t have announced any tourist opportunities without ensuring our safety. We’ve gone this far and it feels like a gift.”
“My family, as with everyone in the country, has faced some of the most difficult months,” added Sawsan’s husband Mohammed Al-Ghamdi. “The Kingdom has so much to offer and it was nice seeing Al-Baha included as it’s still unexplored territory for many.”
Al-Ghamdi who grew up in the region but lives in Jeddah, considers it a hidden gem. He said that there is so much to see and do and it’s a great opportunity to go, especially given that the guides will all be Saudi. “This is for all Saudis and residents alike, we have so much to show.”
Mariam Al-Harbi, a 28-year-old private sector worker, said, “I think the winter season will be delightful. I still haven’t looked through the entire program but the activities are so diverse — camping, hiking and snorkeling. It’s got an agenda for families or a group of friends, so that’s an added bonus. I’m thinking of taking my younger brother hiking. He’s a very active fellow and we have always wanted to try it, so why not start locally?”
The Arabian Winter destinations are split into five categories: Three historical destinations, AlUla, Diriyah and Al-Ahsa; four marine destinations, Yanbu, Umluj, Jazan and King Abdullah Economic City; four city destinations, Riyadh, Jeddah, Dammam and Alkhobar, three cold destinations, Tabuk, Al-Jouf and Hail; and three mountainside destinations, Taif, Al-Baha and Asir.
The tourist experience will cover campsite adventures, local cuisine, hiking, relaxation, beach activities and rural and adventure activities.
The season will also include several Umrah packages, which can be viewed on ticketingboxoffice.com, allowing pilgrims to choose from the SR500 ($133) Umrah experience, a five-day Umrah package for SR3,649 or three-day package for SR2,699. In the packages, visitors get a variety of stops to check out alongside their pilgrimage stop in Makkah.
Jeddah packages include a three-day “nature breeze” with a price tag of SR3,946 that covers a tour through the city’s heritage sites, a winter at Jeddah package for SR3,950, a two-day trip between Jeddah and Taif for SR1,799 and lastly, a six-day tour to discover the Sarawat Mountains for SR3,799, where visitors can experience the wilderness, local cuisine and hike through the lush green mountains of the western region.
Riyadh packages similarly include a three-day city tour for SR2,185-2,699, one-day adventures such as hiking winter camp visits, the desert experience and many more activities. The three-month event will also include a multi-city tours between Al-Ahsa, Riyadh, Hail and Qassim costing SR4,099-4,699.