Destination Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia picks up tourism after lockdown restrictions were eased

Saudi Arabia after relaxing the restrictions for domestic tourism has seen a quick boom and are preparing for a quick rebound in International tourism starting early 2021.

The government of Saudi Arabia are planning to open up for international tourists from January 2021 where the kingdom with its group-20 of biggest economies is planning to facilitate a resumption of global travel.

“If countries today open their borders, we will be fit to run fast, and this is the plan,” said Al-Khateeb, a key adviser to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. “We believe people want to travel and they will continue to travel, but we need countries to coordinate their actions.”

With the pandemic, Saudi had closed its borders since March and this halted the government plan to expand its travel industry for six months. The government had allowed foreign tourists to enter however, the visitors slumped and the boom in domestic tourism balanced the predicted decline in tourism.

With tourism being one of the major part in the kingdoms plan to diversify the oil-dependent economy, due to the pandemic the plan was halted and it led to job losses with the World Travel and Tourism Council predicting the loss of 100 million jobs.

Mr Al-Khateeb said that the official tourism targets for the upcoming year remains unchanged and the government still plans to expand the sector to make up 10% of economic output by 2030.

“We built the ecosystem, we have the international campaigns ready, we have developed the visitor experience and we are ready to capture the numbers we promised to capture,” said Al-Khateeb

The kingdom of Saudi Arabia had granted about 500,000 visas before closing its borders and it mostly consisted of Islamic religious pilgrimages, but the borders were closed due to the pandemic and there was a steep decline in tourism. However, since the surge of domestic travel which was 50% larger than predicted it helped to balance the businesses and jobs.  Hotel occupancy at the 10 locations that the government chose to promote summer tourism sites rose to 80% over the summer, compared to just 5% earlier in the pandemic, he added.

Last month, the kingdom launched its first cruise which was halted after a suspected coronavirus case. However, the cruise is now resumed.

The kingdom of Saudi Arabia is planning to welcome International tourists starting in 2021, where they will follow health and safety standards.

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