quotes Souda Peaks adds soaring value to Saudi Arabia’s tourism industry

29 September 2023
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Updated 29 September 2023

Souda Peaks adds soaring value to Saudi Arabia’s tourism industry

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has announced the development of the Soudah region and parts of Rijal Alma into “Soudah Peaks” — a remarkable value-add to the Kingdom’s tourism industry.

The project aims to develop a luxury mountain destination set 3,015 meters above sea level on Saudi Arabia’s highest peak.

The project is a key part of the Public Investment Fund’s efforts to enhance tourism in Saudi Arabia and support the government’s efforts to diversify the Kingdom’s economy by expanding vital industries including sport, entertainment, logistics services and information technology.

It is expected that the project will attract 2 million tourists and contribute cumulatively more than SR29 billion ($7.7 billion) to the Kingdom’s gross domestic product.

The project is also expected to attract local and foreign investment and create thousands of direct and indirect jobs, and is aligned with the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 strategic goals and objectives to increase the tourism industry contribution to the Kingdom’s GDP to 10 percent by 2030.

The Soudah Peaks project, which will accommodate six unique development zones — Tahlal, Sahab, Sabrah, Jareen, Rijal and Red Rock — is designed to promote both the cultural and landscape heritage of Asir province.

The project aims to develop 2,700 hospitality keys, 1,336 residential units, and 80,000 square meters of commercial space for Soudah Peaks by 2033.

Asir is located southwest of Saudi Arabia and receives more rainfall than any other province in the country.

The development masterplan for Asir is designed to offer an unparalleled tourism experience, especially to tourists who are seeking tourism in a pleasant climate with an average temperature of 10 C and enriched with a unique range of flora (60 percent of the Kingdom’s forests). Additionally, Asir is blessed with a unique and diverse terrain; its coastline stretches across 125 km, and is home to Saudi Arabia’s 20-highest mountain peaks, which would offer an exciting environment for climbers.

It is worth noting that since the launch of the National Tourism Strategy in 2019, the sector has experienced rapid investment growth due to the monumental reforms as part of Saudi Arabia’s economic transformation.

I believe that the Soudah Peaks projects will support the development of the province and enhance the local tourism financial indicators.

The number of domestic visits increased to 63.8 million in 2021, representing an increase of 33.6 percent from 2019.

Likewise, domestic tourist spending has amounted to SR80.9 billion ($21.6 billion) in 2021, representing 32.2 percent growth compared to 2019.

The number of commercial registrations issued for tourism sector activities has increased by 260 percent compared to 2015, andthere were 7,148 licenses granted in 2021.

• Talat Zaki Hafiz is an economist and financial analyst. X: @TalatHafiz