JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has launched a SR50 billion ($13 billion) tourism strategy for Asir that aims to attract more than 10 million visitors from inside and outside the Kingdom by 2030.
The plan for the region, under the theme “The Arabian Highland,” aims to be a “comprehensive and unprecedented development renaissance for the region, by pumping 50 billion riyals through various investments,” Saudi Press Agency reported on Tuesday.
The investments include financing projects and developing tourist attractions on the peaks of Asir’s mountains to turn the province into a year-round destination.
The projects will rely on the area’s cultural and natural strengths that combine “authenticity and modernity,” and help advance social and economic growth in the region.
The crown prince, who is also chairman of the Council of Economic and Development Affairs, said the strategy aims to exploit the huge tourism potential in the region, including the geographical and natural diversity, and rich culture and heritage.
The strategy seeks to attract local and foreign investments and help make tourism and culture major drivers of Asir’s economic development.
It will help provide new job opportunities, raise the quality of life, and upgrade basic services and infrastructure in the region.
Asir’s governor Prince Turki bin Talal bin Abdulaziz thanked the crown prince for his “continuous support and generous care for the Asir region and its people.”
The strategy was launched through joint work between the Development Authorities Support Office and the Asir Development Authority, in cooperation with the US-based Boston Consulting Group.
Discussions took place between local residents, experts and private sector companies to develop the general plans.
The region is located in the Kingdom’s southwest and extends 125 kilometers along the Red Sea coast.
It has an area of around 80,000 square kilometers and its highest mountain, Mount Sawda, is 3,015 meters above sea level. Asir shares a border with five other regions in the Kingdom and has an estimated population of more than 2.3 million people.
The region has two airports, including Abha International Airport, and two universities — King Khalid University and Bisha University.
King Khalid University is involved in the strategy due to its developmental and human importance.
The plans would see Abha airport expanded to handle 10 million passengers a year.