Saudi Arabia has big goals | current tourism

The goals are gigantic. And they are based on a fundamental social change: Saudi Arabia is changing rapidly – and opening up not only inwards but also outwards: “We want to become an important travel destination worldwide – and one of the largest cruise destinations in the world” says Fahd Hamidaddin, CEO and board member of the Tourism Authority of Saudi Arabia.

Hamidaddin toured Germany in mid-November to discuss and plan projects with tour operators such as TUI and FTI, airlines such as Lufthansa, Eurowings Discover and Condor, and travel agency organizations such as LCC.

Apart from pilgrimages, Germany is one of the most important source markets for tourism in Saudi Arabia. For around ten years, not only groups have been allowed to travel around the country on prefabricated tours, but also individual tourists in rental cars. You can spend the night in luxurious hotels as well as in desert camps in the middle of sand dunes.

$ 500 billion in the game

In the next few years, the country is to become even more attractive for tourists through additional tourist hotspots as well as lifestyle locations and events. Saudi Arabia wants to invest 500 billion US dollars, “more than any other country in the world,” emphasizes tourism professional Hamidaddin in an interview with touristik aktuell.

In addition to the construction and expansion of cruise ports, the largest project is the redesign of the historic city of Diriyah. A gigantic shopping, restaurant and lifestyle district is being built there for over 40 billion euros.

The so-called Dariyah Gate is only 15 minutes by car northwest of the capital Riyadh and is expected to receive more than seven million visitors a year in the future. At the center of the project is the Bujairi Terrace with numerous restaurants in every category. The first of them are scheduled to open at the beginning of 2022, and in the medium term 18 international and numerous national gastronomy brands will be represented.

More flight connections planned

In order to make the country’s tourist destinations accessible to international guests, Saudi Arabian Airlines wants to encourage them to take up more flight connections into the country. “That is the basis for the planned growth,” says Hamidaddin, referring to the recent contract between MSC Cruises and the national carrier Saudi Arabian Airlines.

He has undertaken to fly 20,000 cruise guests from Europe and North America into the country for the seven-day MSC Belissima routes this winter alone. The departure times to Jeddah have even been adjusted from Frankfurt and Munich.

Hamidaddin is already in talks with Carnival, TUI Cruises, Silversea and others to get them excited about Jeddah as the base port and the Red Sea route.

Matthias Gürtler

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