World Travel Market is set to welcome representation from Saudi Arabia to the exhibition floor for the first time this year, as the Saudi government unveils plans to invest heavily into its tourism industry over the next decade.
Representation from The Saudi Commission for Tourism & Antiquities, along with the country’s national airline Saudi Airlines and flynas will all be exhibiting at WTM in London from the November 3rd– 6th 2014.
Last year WTM facilitated business deals worth more than £2.2 billion – with Middle Eastern exhibitors benefiting from £144 million of business.
This was generated through contracts signed with WTM Buyers’ Club members at the event or from further negotiations, which will conclude before WTM 2014.
The plan for the Saudi government to invest over £18 billion in tourism from 2013 to 2023 was reported last year in a MENA tourism and hospitality report by research consultancy Aranca.
Their main objectives are to provide employment opportunities for the many Saudi graduates and cope with the increasing number of visitors, which is estimated to increase at a compound annual growth rate of two per cent to 21.3 million over the next decade.
The SCTA recently announced its £1.85 million plan to set-up tourist information centres across the country that provides information on domestic events.
Ramadan festivals have just been held in several regions around Saudi, with the country witnessing an upward trend in domestic tourism.
The SCTA reporting a 25 per cent increase in domestic trips in the Kingdom from 19 million in 2012 to 23.8 million trips being made last year.
Hamad Alsheikh, vice president for marketing and programs at the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities commented on their main reasons for being at WTM for the first time this year:
“Saudi aims to highlight the historic potentials of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as a crossroad of civilizations through displaying part of its history, heritage, achievements and tourism potentials by way of print material and direct communication,” he explained.
“We plan to highlight and introduce the existing tourism investments in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in different fields, especially in the convention and exhibition sector and accommodation sector, in addition to other tourism and investment areas.”