SAUDI Arabia is working toward meeting the challenge of creating a strong tourism sector without compromising its ongoing programme of Saudisation.
The Kingdom realises that tourism is vital for realising its national objectives, boosting the economy and cementing ties among members of the community. This it is doing without compromising on the religious and cultural values of the nation. It also wants an increasing number of Saudis to take up positions in the tourism sector.
The country wants to see itself as a highly-developed tourism industry that upholds the country’s religion, morals and traditions.
If any person wishes to visit as a tourist, he will be welcome but this must be within the country’s recognised customs and morals. This is the stand the Kingdom has taken. At the same time, it makes no difference in the treatment of citizens and expatriates.
That is why Prince Naif, minister of interior and member of the Supreme Commission for Tourism (SCT), has repeatedly stressed two points. First, the tourist sector must employ the largest number of Saudis in various areas of business. Second, there has to be a special and independent security body attached to the supreme commission to handle safety matters. He wants qualified and well-trained Saudi youths to undertake this responsibility.
The Kingdom does not want tourism to become a burden on the security agencies of the ministry. Security agencies together with the new tourism security apparatus now shoulder the responsibility of training and provide all possible assistance in training and other forms of support.
Prince Sultan bin Salman, secretary-general of the commission, has been chairing the constituent meeting of the commission’s advisory board which discusses the outline for the national tourism plan. The plan’s implementation is in three phases extending for a period of 20 years. An international consultancy in planning and studies has been assigned the task of lying down a comprehensive framework for the plan.
Prince Sultan is busy seeking the implementation of the commission’s tourism plan. This he is doing by developing a strong hospitality sector to through a partnership involving all other sectors of the economy.
Its subcommittees have been holding separate meetings to discuss matters related to environmental and urban development, culture and heritage, tourism and social projects, economic programmes, human resources, systems and regulations and tourist information and development. At least a dozen members of these groups are women sitting on committees dealing with cultural, heritage, tourism and social affairs. The whole exercise is directed to divert some of the SAR25 billion spent annual by Saudis on overseas travel to the domestic tourism market.
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