RIYADH: The Saudi Tourism Development Fund has allocated SR1 billion ($266 million) to back up to 50 medium and small projects the Kingdom’s Minister of Tourism Ahmed bin Aqil Al-Khatib has announced.
He revealed this during the ministry's second virtual monthly meeting held to review the progress made in this key sector, Al Arabiya reported.
Al-Khatib also discussed the ministry’s efforts to further elevate the tourism sector's role in the Kingdom.
He revealed that the ministry encourages and motivates small project owners to submit significant feasibility studies in order to obtain the necessary support. This will help them provide highly efficient tourism services.
In an attempt to move towards achieving the ambitions and aspirations of the national tourism strategy, the ministry is currently in process of preparing the Umrah strategy, the strategy for developing the city of Taif, preparing for the winter season, and trying to keep up with the World Cup, Al-Khatib said.
In addition to this, the ministry has allocated as much as SR100 million per year to train and help individuals become equipped to work in the Kingdom’s tourism sector. The ministry has also recommended a certain number of investors in the sector to further localize jobs and attract more Saudi talent, he stressed.
Since the establishment of the ministry, the number of firms operating in the tourism sector has hit 777 companies. Now it aims to raise the number of firms operating in the sector to 1,000 in the near future, the minister disclosed.
By offering tourism programs characterized by diversity and richness, Al-Khatib said they will be able to create more opportunities for competition and improve services in the Kingdom.
Moreover, under the Kingdom’s Vision 2030, Saudi Arabia has an ambitious target to receive 30 million pilgrims and Umrah performers per year by 2030. To achieve this, he said positive cooperation from various government sectors related to organizing trips will be required. The minister explained that it is also needed to offer an integrated tourism experience that meets the aspirations of visitors and tourists.
The Kingdom is currently developing a number of attractive tourism projects across various destinations such as Neom and the Red Sea coasts, he said.
Riyadh is set to become the capital of the global tourism industry as the Kingdom steadily diversifies its economy in line with the goals set out in Saudi Arabia's Vision 2030 strategy, Al-Khateeb emphasized.
Speaking at the Future Investment Initiative in Riyadh on Oct. 25, Al-Khateeb said in order to give incoming travelers the best experience possible, the nation is building spectacular destinations which will operate in a sustainable manner.
“We have the vision, we put the plan, and we put all the resources, especially the financial resources to deliver the plan,” said Al-Khateeb.
Earlier this year, authorities in Saudi Arabia signed an agreement to enhance cooperation in tourist-transport services within the Kingdom, support marine tourism, and develop and promote tourism in the western and eastern regions.
The memorandum of understanding was signed by the Saudi Railways Co., known as SAR, and Cruise Saudi, which is responsible for developing the Kingdom’s cruise sector.