Mega projects to make Kingdom top tourism destination

Taif is one of Saudi Arabia’s leading tourist destinations that attracts thousands of tourists every year. The photo shows the imposing Shubra Palace in the city.

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia will become a top tourist center in the Arab world with big recreational projects under way, said Prince Sultan bin Salman, chairman of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities.

He denied suggestions that a large number of Saudi nationals go to foreign tourist destinations including Dubai to spend their Eid holidays.  “Saudi Arabia is a big country with a population of 26 million. Only a small percentage of Saudis go abroad for tourism.” However, he pointed out that, like other nationals, Saudis also visit foreign tourist destinations. “Saudi tourism is a big project. We need to develop infrastructure to promote tourism and we need greater private sector investment in the sector,” the prince said.

“We have already completed a number of projects for providing integrated tourism services. It will take time for us to complete some of the major projects,” he said, while speaking to Al Arabiya Channel. The SCTA chief said tourism would play a major role in creating more jobs for young Saudi men and women and strengthening the national economy.

“Tourism is the second largest provider of jobs, accounting for 26 percent and Saudis are happy to work in this vital sector,” Prince Sultan pointed out.  He highlighted the flow of tourists to Saudi resorts in recent years. “More than 10 million people attended tourism festivals in various parts of the country this summer.”  The SCTA chairman also underscored the success of tourism festivals that have been held in various regions and cities this year with the support of governorates and tourism committees.