It is time to awaken the domestic tourism giant


Al-Watan newspaper

The Saudi government has announced its full support for domestic tourism and has signed several agreements with a number of global companies that are pioneers in the sector, such as Six Flags. The government has also signed major agreements to build the largest entertainment city in the Al-Qiddiya area and the Red Sea City project. These are gigantic projects that will support the economy and are in line with the government’s plans to find new sources of non-oil income.

Saudis love to travel to Arab and Asian countries on holidays. However, the political situation that has ripped through countries such as Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and others, and the declining security condition in Egypt and Turkey, make many Saudis think twice before traveling to these countries. What has made the situation worse is that a number of Saudi tourists have been kidnapped for ransom while others have been caught up in violent crime. As a result, going abroad is painful for many Saudi families who have lost their loved ones abroad.

Nowadays, Saudis prefer to go to the Maldives and Malaysia. But the number of tourists is not as large as it used to be in the past. This is a golden opportunity to bring domestic tourism into the spotlight and to provide tourists with innovative programs targeting all segments of society. The Kingdom has tourist attractions in all of its regions. It is home to both historical and ancient sites. More importantly, the country has a fully developed infrastructure that allows tourists to safely visit sites.

The Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities needs to exert more effort to promote domestic tourism. It should form committees that can create modern tourist itineraries that will satisfy the needs of all age groups. Shopping festivals are no longer attractive to people. We should, therefore, forget about them. We need innovative tourist programs.

The number of Saudi tourists who have spent their mid-term holidays abroad has dramatically decreased in recent years. If anything, this decrease shows that people prefer to spend their vacation in the Kingdom and enjoy the nice weather. The authorities also need to focus on Umrah pilgrims and design attractive programs that will encourage them to spend more money. Our domestic tourism is a giant that needs to be awakened. This sector can help reduce unemployment and contribute to the national economy.