‘Saudi Summer’ plan aims to kick-start tourism industry
RIYADH: In an effort to kick-start tourist activity as the Kingdom begins to emerge from the coronavirus lockdown, the Saudi Ministry of Tourism is launching a “Saudi Summer” initiative with the slogan “tanaffas,” which is Arabic for breathe.
The plans for the initiative, which aims to promote domestic tourism, were discussed during a virtual press conference on Wednesday. They include the implementation of strict safety protocols to protect tourists.
Tourism Minister Ahmed said the ministry is working on a series of reforms in a number of sectors to improve the tourism options available to people within the country.
“We are working toward political reforms, social reforms and economic reforms,” he said, adding that a committee of ministers responsible for these sectors will meet four times a year to minimize the obstacles to achieving the tourism goals.
“The amount of work that is currently being done is humongous, and we will begin to reap the benefits of this labor within two or three years,” Al-Khatib said.
Fahad Hamidaddin, the chief of investment, strategy and tourism marketing, said the ministry carried out an extensive survey on tourism about a month ago. This provided crucial information that is being used to decide the best course of action to support the tourism industry as the coronavirus lockdown is relaxed and life gradually begins to return to normal in the Kingdom.
“When we polled people on whether or not they wanted to leave the Kingdom for the summer, 81 percent replied in the negative, despite the fact that about 63 percent of them wanted to go out and have fun,” said Hamidaddin.
“A lot of tourism companies were afraid of the impact the COVID-19 pandemic would have on their business. When we showed them the data, we were able to get them on board with our plans and further one of our ultimate goals, which is to empower local businesses in the industry.
“We found that people are looking for coastlines (and) mountain ranges (to visit), and passed this sort of information on to local tourism companies.
“The pandemic has left people feeling stifled. Our role is to turn that feeling into something that could help them relax. People just want to breath right now,” he added, which provided the inspiration for the Saudi Summer slogan.
While foreign travel is still on hold because of the global pandemic, domestic flights resumed in Saudi Arabia at the beginning of this month. However, COVID-19 remains a serious threat and therefore safety protocols must be strictly followed.
Mohammed Al-Modhayan, a marketing adviser to the ministry, said that all possible precautions are being taken to ensure the safety of Saudi citizens and residents traveling within the Kingdom.
“The protocols in place have been set in accordance with guidance and approval from the Ministry of Health, and executed by the Ministry of Tourism, which is also responsible for providing licenses to companies such as hotels and tourist attractions,” he said. “Any of those companies will need to follow said guidelines to obtain and retain their licenses.”