Saudi sets aside $2.64bn for six tourism initiatives

The kingdom received 18 million visitors last year but the majority were pilgrims

Saudi has launched six initiatives to boost its travel and tourism sector with SAR9.93bn ($2.64bn) of backing in this year’s budget.

The initiatives include a programme for taking care of national culture and heritage through 79 projects, the development of Okaz city in Taif and the positioning of the kingdom as a destination for Muslims.

Funds are also being set aside to finance commercial establishments for tourism projects, create integrated tourism destinations that appeal to different family members, and get students interested in the sector.

The Long Live Saudi Arabia Programme is currently carrying out tours for 25,000 students and will target 122,000 by 2020.

The kingdom received 18 million visitors last year but the majority came for the Hajj or Umrah pilgrimage.

The Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTNH) is aiming to promote tourism beyond pilgrim traffic from both the local and foreign market, through a focus on historical sites, beaches and monuments.

The kingdom is aiming to generate 1.2 million jobs for Saudis from tourism by 2030. Around 900,000 Saudis are employed in the sector to date.

The SCTNH has a total of 31 initiatives as part of the kingdom’s National Transformation Plan 2020.

Read: Saudi Vision 2030 aims to double tourism sector by 2020