JEDDAH: As part of Saudi Arabia’s bold strategy to use tourism as an engine for economic change and boost growth an initiative has been launched to raise the profile of private enterprises in the sector.
The Saudi Tourism Authority (STA) set up Tourism Shapers to promote the development of local trade partners in the private tourism sector. The initiative comes at a time where the Kingdom is developing its destination offering for local, regional and international tourists.
Last June, Saudi Arabia injected $4 billion into the tourism sector through the Tourism Development Fund to provide investment opportunities for tourism businesses.
“Across the Kingdom, we are seeing different types of small-to-medium sized businesses transform their working models and offering so that tourism is at the heart of their core product,” said Fahd Hamidaddin, the authority’s CEO.
“Businesses are beginning to think differently about the future, recognizing the immense growth opportunities within the tourism sector and how they must adapt, evolve and innovate to meet the needs of their customer.”
Tourism Shapers aims not only to support the growth of the tourism ecosystem, but also to inspire small-to-medium sized businesses to recognize the opportunities within the industry.
Hessa Alajaji, who launched Maalim, a premium tour agency that organises tourism in the Kingdom for Saudis and tourists, said: “Traveling the Kingdom has made me realize the importance of not only exploring the Kingdom but learning about the different cultures and make up of Saudi Arabia.”
An avid traveler, she founded her agency approximately two years ago to promote philanthropy by encouraging local Saudi culture.
“There’s a lot of potential in the Kingdom’s tourism sector, it’s growing and it’s an untapped market that’s ripe for investment,” she said. “There’s so much to see and so much to do, discovering our regions through the help of local tour agencies will provide visitors with an amazing experience.”
Businesses are recognizing the immense growth opportunities within the tourism sector.
Fahd Hamidaddin, STA CEO
“The future of tourism is dependent on building partnerships at all levels,” said Hamidaddin. “Tourism Shapers is just one initiative through which STA is sharing ideas and insights that will help empower our partners to win their share of visitation.”
The initiative is running a series of webinars, the first of which was in February, with sessions focusing on a variety of topics to equip the audience with best practices, key insights, and information to keep them informed on the tourism industry’s evolution.
Among those attending the first session were Aya Sadder, travel expert and founder of start-up enabler Why Bolt, Noor Nugali, the assistant editor-in-chief of Arab News, and Abdulrahman Bakhsh, the private sector partnerships directors at STA.
Sadder, who was the keynote speaker, shed light on how businesses need to be more agile during uncertain times.
“The future of the industry will focus on building more resilient communities and businesses through innovation, effective partnerships and readiness to embrace digitalisation,” Sadder said.
The next webinar, which focuses on pricing strategy for tourism businesses, will be broadcast on March 17, 2021 at 7:00 p.m. KSA time via the Tourism Shapers website www.tourismshapers.com