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SCTH Chief to Asharq Al-Awsat: Saudi Arabia Aims to Attract 30 Mln Tourists Annually

SCTH Chief to Asharq Al-Awsat: Saudi Arabia Aims to Attract 30 Mln Tourists Annually

Monday, 29 April, 2019 - 10:15
Saudi Arabia's pavilion at the 2019 Arabian Travel Market expo in Dubai. (SPA)
Dubai - Musaid al Zayani
Saudi Arabia’s diversity will allow it to compete in the global tourism sector and attract 1.4 billion tourists from around the world, said Ahmed al-Khateeb, Chairman of the Board of Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH).

Khateeb spoke to Asharq Al-Awsat Sunday during the opening ceremony of the Kingdom's pavilion at the 2019 Arabian Travel Market expo in Dubai.

The pavilion highlights several attractions in the Kingdom, such as the NEOM, Red Sea, AMALA, al-Diriyah Gate and Mawasem projects.

Khateeb noted that diversity can be seen in Saudi Arabia’s history, nature and hospitable people, adding that tourism was no longer an option, but rather a necessity.

He asserted that Custodian of Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman support the tourism sector as part of Vision 2030, which aims to diversify the Saudi economy.

He stressed the importance of tourism in the world, noting that it contributes up to 10 percent of the global gross domestic product (GDP) and provides the same percentage of jobs opportunities.

Khateeb indicated that at present, Saudi tourism can grow to attract 30 million tourists, adding that the Kingdom boasts major programs aimed at investing in infrastructure at airlines, airports or hotels, and commercial complexes.

The sector will receive a boost from the various projects that have already been announced, such as al-Qiddiya, NEOM, Red Sea, AMALA and Diriyah Gate, he said.

“We have very large projects that will put Saudi Arabia in a very competitive place to attract tourists from around the world.”

Khateeb lauded the strong relations between Saudi Arabia and UAE, underlining the coordination between them in marketing tourism and establishing flexible regulations that allow residents of each country to easily visit the other.

Taking place from April 28 to May 1, ATM 2019 will see the participation of 400 main stand holders with representation from over 150 countries. With more than 40,000 visitors expected to attend, event will showcase over 2,500 exhibiting companies, of which 100 will be making their show debut, said the UAE news agency (WAM).

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