Saudi Tourism Authority, Visa sign MoU at ATM 2023
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ATM 2023: Saudi Tourism Authority, Visa sign MoU to boost tourism

ATM 2023: Saudi Tourism Authority, Visa sign MoU to boost tourism

The two entities will explore opportunities to establish the first Tourism Data Lab in Saudi Arabia and enable digital payment solutions for tourists

Neesha Salian
Saudi Tourism Authority Visa sign MoU at ATM 2023

Visa has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Saudi Tourism Authority (STA) to collaborate and develop initiatives to boost Saudi Arabia’s tourism sector.

 The MoU was signed in Dubai at the Arabian Travel Market 2023.

The two entities will set a framework for collaboration to build the first Tourism Data Lab in the region to provide data-driven insights into travel and tourism trends, enabling STA, Visa, and all industry stakeholders to make informed decisions to support the Saudi government’s tourism ambitions. 

Visa and STA will also tap opportunities to launch Visa’s digital payment solutions and exclusive packages to enhance the experience of Visa cardholders and tourists to Saudi.

The packages for ‘hassle-free’ payments and value deals will be finalised through consultation with relevant authorities with the goal of promoting the Saudi tourism sector.

Walter Lironi, Visa’s SVP for Visa Consulting and Analytics for CEMEA region, said: Saudi Arabia is fast emerging as a tourism hub with diverse and enriching experiences awaiting visitors. The industry is also a pivotal pillar in achieving the goals of Saudi Vision 2030 to diversify the economy and create new job opportunities. We are therefore pleased to enter into this partnership with STA to explore multiple pathways we can enhance the tourism experience of visitors to Saudi Arabia and support the government’s tourism ambitions.”

‘Saudi Tourism Authority keen to enhance its capabilities’

Abdulkarim Aldarwish, president of MEA Markets at Saudi Tourism Authority, said: “The agreement with Visa, the world leader in digital payments, confirms that the Saudi Tourism Authority is keen to enhance its capabilities by providing, exchanging and analysing data as well as offering products and promotional package programmes that improve the experience of tourists and attract more segments from the main markets in the region.”

 The collaboration will be complemented by the payments database, VisaNet, which provides comprehensive data on inbound tourism and extensive insight into how governments can optimise their cashless strategy. 

The insights generated from the data include visitor journeys and spending behaviors across different categories, seasonality, digital adoption, and customer types, allowing for a holistic overview of how to create customer-centric payment experiences.

Earlier this year, Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in collaboration with the relevant authorities and national airlines, launched an electronic service, allowing visitors who are stopping over in Saudi Arabia to get an entry visa into the kingdom.

Read: Saudi Arabia’s new free stopover visa: Here’s what you need to know

The transit visa for stopovers allows those in transit to enter the kingdom to perform Umrah and visit the Prophet’s Mosque, in addition to visiting the country for tourism purposes.

The Stopover Visa application is automatically available through the airline booking platforms for all passengers traveling to their final destination on SAUDIA or flynas airlines.

A stopover can be made through any airport in Saudi. For many, the application process can be completed in under three minutes and can be applied for up to 90 days before travel.

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