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The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s tourism ecosystem is undergoing a major overhaul

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s tourism ecosystem is undergoing a major overhaul with the announcement of a New Tourism Law approved this week by a Council of Ministers Resolution. The law will accelerate the development of an internationally competitive tourism sector in the Kingdom which will drive business, innovation, and investment.

The New Tourism Law will establish new regulatory environments in the Kingdom to attract tourism innovators and improve ease of doing business. This allows new or experimental tourism businesses to receive special licenses and support from the Ministry, allowing them to flourish. It will also streamline licensing processes and procedures by creating a one-stop-shop platform for all tourism stakeholders. Both initiatives were announced in February 2022 as part of the Ministry’s Digital Tourism Strategy.

With the new legal framework, the Ministry of Tourism will have greater control of the quality of tourism services offered within the Kingdom, ensuring the highest standards possible for both tourists and businesses while also strengthening destination development.

The law also extends the Ministry’s remit for swift collaboration with government entities to mitigate risks and manage crises.

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The Council of Ministers further approved a resolution that empowers the Ministry of Tourism to enable sector growth. The resolution gives the Ministry permission to facilitate tax and custom exceptions or reductions with related government entities, creating powerful incentives for businesses to invest into the Kingdom’s growing tourism sector.

It also enables the Ministry to work collaboratively with other private sector entities to establish work plans and training programs, enabling job creation and training for Saudis and boosting human capital development in the Kingdom.

This new framework for collaboration with the private sector and relevant government entities will improve the quality of services in the tourism sector and promote Saudi as a top five global destination. It will accelerate achieving the goals set by the Kingdom’s National Tourism Strategy and Vision 2030, including 100 million new visits, tourism’s 10 percent GDP contribution and 1 million new tourism jobs.

His Excellency Ahmed Al Khateeb, Minister of Tourism, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, said: “In our continued work to develop, promote and enable an internationally competitive tourism sector as a key pillar of Vision 2030, we are delighted to announce the approval of the new tourism law in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia will drive business and investment, support innovation and attract tourists, in line with international best practices.

“This law follows the Kingdom’s recent announcement of the Regional Tourism Development Councils Regulation, a major milestone in advancing Saudi Arabia’s National Tourism Strategy. The regulation will accelerate the development of tourist destinations in the various regions, including NEOM, Al-Soudah, the Red Sea, and Diriyah Gate.

“With a future-focused vision, we are working diligently to upgrade hospitality standards and provide unprecedented and enriching visitor experiences.”

The New Tourism Law was developed with reference to international best international practices identified by the top twenty countries in the World Economic Forum’s Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index.

The tourism sector’s rapid development and its integration with modern technologies is considered within the law, including the provision of a new tool which administers permits for experimental tourism activities. The tourism sector is amongst the first sectors in the Kingdom to use this regulatory tool.

The law contains key data considerations, stipulating the establishment of an information database containing statistics and information on all aspects of the Saudi tourism sector in line with international best practices for tourism investors, service providers, tourists, and other interested parties. Published on the Ministry’s website, the data will be updated regularly in coordination with relevant entities.