Saudi Arabia government grants US$2.6bn to tourism projects

Saudi Arabia’s government has allocated SAR9.9bn (US$2.64bn, €2.29bn, £2.02bn) to develop and rebuild the country’s tourism projects in its attempt to turn it into a world-class tourism destination.

Over the past few years, the country’s leaders have paid great attention to various sectors of tourism and national heritage in an effort to make help them achieve the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 plan – the blueprint to realise its long-term tourism goals by increasing revenue generated from tourism to 18 percent of GDP.

Approved under the National Transformation Program 2020 – the first steps towards embodying the Vision 2030 plan – the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH) said that six initiatives had been approved.

Among the initiatives is development of integrated tourism destinations for families in Al Ula, Fursan Islands, and Al Raas Al Abyad Shore.

SCTH will also undertake redevelopment and operation of 15 traditional handicraft centers – which create hand made items such as pottery, jewelry and artworks – upping operating numbers to 17. Through this, handicraft brands will be developed as a means of generating revenue and promoting Saudi heritage.

A collection of 80 archeological sites will undergo restoration and development, making them accessible to the public and bringing total numbers to 155 across the Kingdom. As part of this, Saudi Arabia will apply to Unesco for designation of three new World Heritage sites, which if approved would bring total numbers up to seven.

Additionally, 18 urban heritage sites will be restored and 18 regional museums will be established – bringing the total number in Saudi Arabia up to 24. 10 of these urban sites will have work completed by 2017, with restoration of deformed or damaged buildings, and development of heritage buildings to include tourist operations such as hotels.

Education and information initiatives are also included in the allocation, with programmes on heritage developed, including production of a number of documentary films, as well as publishing print materials on the cultural heritage of the Kingdom and broadcasting television programmes from inside historic mosques.

To achieve these goals, SCTH will establish three companies to act as its operational wings. These will be divided into the Saudi Company for Heritage Sites Operation, the Heritage Buildings Restoration Company and a company specialising in handicrafts to support Saudi artisans.

Finally, a Tourism Marketing Council – a regulatory entity created in partnership with the private sector to manage and develop a range of products, activities and marketing services to support the tourism and events industry – will be established. Operations of the council will be financed by a tourist levy, which will be imposed directly by the Kingdom's hotels as a bed tax.

“The new initiatives of SCTH come in the context of the first phase of the National Transformation Program 2020, which is currently being undertaken with the participation of the Council for Economic and Development Affairs, in addition to 18 public administrations” said an SCTH statement.

“These include initiatives covering various economic, social and development areas expected to contribute to the transformation of the Kingdom to the digital age, as well as promote public-private partnerships, and create jobs and increase national income.”

Saudi Arabia  tourism  visitor attractions  heritage  Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage 
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