Jeddah to become a tourism hub in two years: JCCI chief

JEDDAH: The city of Jeddah will become an attractive tourist destination in two years, said Saleh Kamil, chairman of the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry (JCCI).Kamil made the comments during a press conference announcing the holding of the Jeddah Exhibition for Tourism and Travel, which is to be held under the theme “The Gate of Tourism,” at the Jeddah Hilton from Dec. 20 to Dec. 23.“The consequences of the Jeddah floods were dealt with quickly, something that reflected positively on the Jeddah governorate and its residents, who include both Saudis and expatriates. All public and private bodies worked hard to overcome the crisis,” he said.He added that what happened in Jeddah was a lesson that the governorate has learned. “We have learned how to organize ourselves and have studied crises before they occur. Now Jeddah receives a higher budget, which can help change the face of the city. The authorities are giving more attention to Jeddah than ever before,” he added.Kamil also announced the establishment of new centers at the JCCI that will specialize in promoting Jeddah as a tourist destination. “A large number of businessmen and businesswomen will be in charge of promoting Jeddah as a tourist destination. They will create investment projects to develop tourist attractions in the city,” he said.The JCCI chairman denied rumors that Jeddah had been ignored in terms of tourism last summer.

“It is true that festivals and events last summer were not perfect, but this happened because of shortcomings on the part of the organizers. We are trying next summer, and throughout the year, to increase the number of festivals, expos and events,” he said, adding that such events will undoubtedly promote Jeddah as a tourist destination.“Several executive commissions will be in charge of attracting tourists from neighboring Gulf countries,” said Kamil.He said the JCCI has established a department to facilitate tourism-related investment.

Mohammad Al-Amri, executive director of the Tourism Development Authority in Makkah, blamed the weakness of the Jeddah Summer Festival on the difficulties the municipality has been experiencing.According to Al-Amri, the upcoming expo is designed to support local tourism and make Saudi citizens aware of areas that have historical significance in the Kingdom. “Large numbers of tourism companies and hotels will participate in the expo to highlight Saudi tourism. During the event all tourism sectors will meet under one roof to exchange their experiences. Tourism companies will be able to reach out to people from different strata to promote their offers,” he said.

Al-Amri said studies indicate that 20 million tourists, both domestic and foreign, visited the Kingdom last year. “About 59 percent of visitors to Jeddah last year were locals and the rest foreigners,” he said.Maya Al-Halafawi, head of the expo’s organizing committee, said the exhibition is a new addition to the country’s tourism sector and is one of the first specialized travel and tourism exhibitions – Arabnews