SUMMER tourism festivals sponsored by the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA) drew 9.3 million attendees this year with some 3.3 million coming from outside the kingdom.
The 15 festivals held across the country attracted spending of SR5 billion ($1.3 billion), with shopping accounting for almost 40 per cent of expenditure, and visitors stayed between two and nine nights with an average stay of five nights per person.
According to details released by the SCTA visitors made a number of recommendations concerning the festivals including the provision accommodation facilities for singles, reevaluating airlines ticket prices and providing special locations for women and youth travellers.
SCTA chairman Prince Sultan bin Salman recently highlighted the importance of his country’s tourism industry, particularly in terms of job creation and employment for rural populations.
Addressing an economic conference in Al-Aqaba, Jordan, the prince said: “Tourism plays a significant role in providing job opportunities and alleviating poverty. The kingdom is currently passing through a remarkable transitional period and this sector too is witnessing change. Tourism, which is a major human activity, has become an industry all by itself.”
He added that the tourism industry is creating a market for local handicrafts as well as creating job opportunities especially at historic, heritage and agricultural sites.
“This activity will ensure honorable living for the residents of these areas who will no longer have to migrate to the urban cities,” said Prince Sultan explaining that the SCTA is focusing on tourist investments in local societies especially in agricultural and rural areas.
“We are cooperating with a number of public and private establishments to further consolidate this trend. We have taken a giant leap through building the capacity of the rural and heritage areas,” he added.
And he expressed his joy at the inclusion of Madain Saleh as the first Saudi historic and tourist site to be registered on the list of international heritage areas.
TTN is the most established trade publication in the Middle East distributed on a controlled circulation basis to members of the travel and tourism industry.
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