The government of Saudi Arabia has expressed optimism about the global tourism potential of its ongoing Red Sea Project.
The Red Sea Project is projected to become an ultra-modern luxury hospitality project built in one of the world’s last hidden natural treasures.
According to the Kingdom’s Minister of Tourism Ahmed Al-Khatib, on completion, the Red Sea Project will enable Saudi Arabia to compete with over 100 other global tourist destinations and showcase the strong collaboration between the Kingdom’s public and private sectors.
Speaking at a meeting with top investors and entrepreneurs in the Chamber of Commerce in Makkah, Minister Al-Khatib said Saudi Arabia provides services to 1.8 million Muslims in Makkah and Madinah, a market dedicated to the Kingdom.
Al-Khatib added that last year the Ministry of Tourism implemented the Air Connectivity Program to facilitate transport into and out of the Kingdom. The ACP aims to connect cities directly with Jeddah and Riyadh, in addition to connecting over 22 destinations through direct flights.
Al-Khatib said the program cost over SR30 million ($8 million).
Talking about some of the other tourism efforts, the minister said that Saudi Arabia recently launched transit visa, an electronic service that will allow passengers stopping over in the Kingdom to obtain an entry visa.
The transit visa allows people who are traveling through Saudi Arabia to enter and perform Umrah, visit the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah, and tour the Kingdom if they intend to do so.
This visa will allow tourists and visitors to stay in the country for up to 96 hours, enabling more visitors than ever to explore the Kingdom’s historical, cultural, and religious attractions.
Minister Al-Khatib then emphasized the importance of the public-private sector partnership and its impact on developing the Kingdom’s tourism sector and increasing the sector’s contribution to the economy.
Abdullah Saleh Kamel, chairman of the Makkah Chamber of Commerce and president of the Islamic Chamber of Commerce, spoke about the challenges the tourism sector faces as well as possible solutions for such challenges.
He disclosed that Makkah is currently executing a number of development projects, such as the Makkah Buses project — which within a year of its trial launch attracted 25 million passengers — as well as the Haramain Express Train, which alone accommodates 2 million pilgrims annually and a total of 19 million pilgrims since inception.
Kamel added that five of the major projects in the city will provide 108,000 hotel rooms with investments estimated at SR170 billion.
All these services are expected to contribute to overcoming the Saudi tourism sector’s challenges and meet the increasing tourist service demand in Saudi Arabia.
Also in attendance at the meeting was the Minister of Hajj and Umrah Tawfiq Al-Rabiah, as well as Deputy Minister of Tourism Princess Haifa bin Saud.