JEDDAH: Thousands of cash-strapped Saudi holidaymakers hit by rising foreign travel costs are opting for summer staycations.
Instead of heading abroad, droves of trippers are taking advantage of the Kingdom’s tourism industry boom to explore destinations closer to home.
Air fares and the costs of traveling abroad have soared after the coronavirus pandemic, prompting many hotels and resorts throughout the country to offer special deals on a range of getaways.
Vacations in Saudi Arabia or day trips to local attractions are proving increasingly popular.
Hamoud Abdulazez, who lives in Riyadh, said: “This summer, I have planned a short break and will take my family on a road trip to explore places in the neighborhood.
“We must face the reality of the situation, that travel budgets are double the amount nowadays. The best option for a holiday is to stay in this country.
“Also, many hotels and resorts have summer-season offers. Despite the extreme heat, the hospitality sector in the country accommodates to weather conditions and provides alternative entertainment activities,” he added.
Ali Rahman, an Indian resident living in Jeddah, said a rise in flight prices to India had forced him to reconsider his summer vacation plans and he was now looking at holidaying in the Asir region.
“Though traveling to India is not really far, the cost of a staycation in the Kingdom is less expensive than traveling outside the country,” he added.
Post-pandemic, many people now work from home or remotely. This has led accommodation providers to offer comfortable working spaces with high-speed Wi-Fi facilities.
The Kingdom boasts a variety of resorts and hotels in locations including Riyadh, Jeddah, Alkhobar, Taif, and Abha.
For adventure and entertainment activities Nofa Riyadh, a Radisson Collection Resort, offers a taste of Africa with its own safari park, along with horse- and camel-riding, water sports, bowling, cinema, buggy rides, cycling, mini golf, children’s entertainment, and an adventure zone.
Nofa Riyadh’s general manager, Fabrice Collot, said: “The resort team members are committed to creating memorable experiences for all our valued guests.
“From arrival, where guests are greeted by the bright smile of one of our front-office attendants, to anywhere over the resort, visitors receive warm and true hospitality. And our concierge will help people to discover every amazing amenity that the resort has to offer.
“A safari is just the beginning. There is an African village with incredible facilities and restaurants offering a vast array of food that guests can have served at their villa while relaxing by their private pool.”
For the beach, nature, and exclusivity, King Abdullah Economic City, on the Red Sea coast 100 kilometres north of Jeddah, is a family favorite.
Activities include go-karting at Juman Park, swan paddling on the Marina Canal, 4-D movies, a science and technology museum, water sports such as scuba diving, snorkelling, and kayaking at the private beaches, horse-riding, and a Lagoona Adventure tour.
With views of the Red Sea, natural lagoon, and mangrove, Bay La Sun Hotel and Marina, and Views Hotel and Residences, in KAEC, offer a range of amenities.
Mustafa Ainen, general manager of Bay La Sun Hotel and Marina and Views Hotel, said: “We are delighted to invite locals and expats to come for staycations and try this side of the country.
“We have created an environment where our guests can have the best personal time of relaxation along with unpretentious fine food and genuine services, big swimming pools surrounded by lush greenery and a snack bar, and a tennis court.
“Staycations save greatly on travel fees. With the current international situation, air fares and transportation costs in general have shot through the roof. As a result, residents in Jeddah, Makkah, and other regions nearby are happy visiting us as we are only a few hours away.”
The mountains of Taif are also a popular staycation destination with incredible landscapes, panoramic views, outdoor adventures, fruit markets, rose farms, cafes, and restaurants proving a major draw.
Abdulrahman Al-Sufiyani, deputy director of Gazelle Resort, said: “Many people visit Taif during the summers to escape the heat in the big cities and enjoy the cool weather of the hill stations.
“Our resort is located on a mountain with a view of the pool and a rustic coffee shop. The villas and suites are decorated in soothing natural hues with a private balcony that looks out over the majestic mountain allowing guests to have a mesmerizing experience and views of the moving clouds.”
Other exclusive summer staycation offers are available at numerous locations around the Kingdom such as at Dana Beach Resort in Half Moon Bay, Alkhobar, and the InterContinental Hotel in Abha.