Jeddah shines as a major hub for conference tourism

September 24, 2017

Saudi Gazette report

JEDDAH – The sprawling business city of Jeddah represents a major hub for conference- and exhibition-related tourism in the region because of its strategic location.

Jeddah hosted 1,536 events in the last six months, accounting for 29.9 percent of business activities held in various parts of the Kingdom during the period.

“There are more than 350 business centers in Jeddah including showrooms of international companies, five-star hotels and huge shopping malls, accounting for 25 percent of such centers across the Kingdom,” a senior official said.

Jeddah also dominates other cities in the Makkah region in business activities and business centers, said the official while highlighting Jeddah’s tourism potentials.

Mohammed Al-Amri, director general of the office of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH) in the Makkah region, said Jeddah has 59 official locations to hold conferences and exhibitions.

They include big exhibition centers as well as conference halls in major hotels, Al-Amri said, adding that they account for 20 percent of such facilities throughout the Kingdom. “There are 90 licensed locations in the Makkah region to hold conferences and exhibitions, representing 31 percent of such locations in the country,” he pointed out.

As many as 1,682 conferences and exhibitions have been held in the Makkah region over the past six months with Jeddah hosting 1,536 events, he said.

“State-of-the-art infrastructure in the Makkah region, especially in Jeddah, have made the region a major hub for economic, medical and scientific conferences and seminars and exhibitions in the Middle East and North Africa,” Al-Amri said.

Jeddah Travel and Tourism Exhibition (JTTX), which is a major event in the Kingdom, will be held from Feb. 28 to March 2 at the Convention Center of Jeddah Hilton. A leading industry event in Saudi Arabia, JTTX highlights the importance of travel and tourism to the local economy.

According to the latest UNWTO World Tourism Statistics, the Kingdom witnessed a 14 percent growth in tourism in 2014, being the fifth best performer globally.

JTTX presents a unique opportunity to share best practices, exchange ideas and promote the industry in the Middle East and worldwide, said an expert.

The SCTH has announced its plan to take up six initiatives to develop tourism and heritage in the country.

“The SCTH is reviewing its strategies to be in conformity with Vision 2030 and achieve the goals of the National Transformation Program (NTP) 2020,” said Mohamed Al-Nashmi, an SCTH official.

There are 31 initiatives for SCTH and its partners mentioned in NTP 2020. The six initiatives are: The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Program for taking care national culture and heritage, the ‘Long Live Saudi Arabia’ program, the development of Okaz city in Taif, the initiative entitled ‘the Kingdom as Muslims’ Destination’, the development of integrated tourism destinations for each member of a family, and the initiative to set up financing guarantee in cooperation with the Kafalah program to finance commercial and financial establishments for tourism and heritage projects.

In the State budget for 2017, allocations have been made for all initiatives involving national heritage and tourism worth SR9.93 billion, said Al-Nashmi. “There are 79 projects under the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Program for taking care national culture and heritage,” he explained.

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