Saudi gears up to boost summer tourism
Cities in Saudi are hoping to increase tourism numbers by organizing several programs and promotions.
July 1, 2009 2:48 by P.K. Abdul Ghafour
Saudi authorities have taken a series of measures to boost domestic tourism during the current summer season. These include plans to increase flights to major tourist resorts and destinations and organizing tourism festivals in major cities with a variety of cultural and recreational programs.
Abdullah Al-Johani, vice president for marketing and media at the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA), said that the body was coordinating with government agencies and airline companies to increase the number of flights to the kingdom’s major tourist spots, such as Abha, Taif and Jeddah. He said the SCTA was mainly targeting local tourists and holidaymakers.
“About 15 percent of people reach their tourist destinations by plane while the rest use land transport,” Al-Johani said. “We have contacted domestic airline companies to discuss prospects of operating more flights to solve transport problems of tourists,” he said.
A total of 21 tourist festivals have also been planned in different parts of the country, including the shopping festival in Riyadh, Jeddah Ghair, Abha Yajmauna and the Taif festival.
Al-Johani added that the Ministry of Health has taken “all precautionary measures to prevent an outbreak [of the H1N1 virus]. Moreover, most people who tested positive for the H1N1 virus have recovered.”
Badr Al-Hokair, chairman of the higher organizing committee of the Jeddah tourism festival, said the festivities would include a ceremony to honor outstanding students, a Ramadan heritage festival and an Eid Al-Fitr festival in addition to 500 cultural, recreational and sports programs such as competitions for children and the elderly, and dramas.
According to Riyadh’s Mayor, Prince Abdul Aziz bin Muhammad bin Ayyaf more than 300 programs would be organized in the city during the festival. “There are many historical places, museums and recreational centers in Riyadh that make the capital city a major tourist destination,” he said.
The Taif municipality has constructed a new road to the Okaz souk in order to facilitate tourist traffic.
First seen in Arab News.