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Saudi Tourism Authority Holds First Networking Event in Pakistan

January 22, 2024

To promote the Kingdom as a “destination beyond just religious experiences” and entice travelers to witness its pristine beauty, cultural richness, and legacy, the Saudi Tourism Authority held its first networking event in Pakistan this week.

Saudi Arabia is a popular religious destination, drawing millions of pilgrims each year to complete the Hajj and Umrah pilgrimages to Islam’s two holiest sites, Makkah and Madinah. However, as part of a plan led by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to diversify the economy away from oil, the Kingdom has begun to encourage leisure travel in recent years. The Saudi government increased its objective of 100 million domestic and foreign visitors to 150 million by 2030 last year.

Following the networking event, Dr. Omar Ayoub, assistant general manager at STA partner, told Arab News, “The government has a vision to increase this number by three or 10-fold in the days to come, as per the vision of Vision 2030 by Crown Mohammed bin Salman, and that’s what we are all collectively working on, enhancing this experience.”

The primary goal of this event was to present Saudi Arabia as a travel destination that goes beyond religious experiences. It was intended for attendees to witness the country’s unspoiled beauty, rich culture, acceptance of all people, and variety of goods and services. It is an amalgam of several experiences that we hope the world will witness.

In an effort to increase tourism, the Saudi government has recently loosened restrictions on visas, enabling holders of Umrah visas to travel freely within the Kingdom.

Alhasan Al-Dabbagh, head of STA’s Asia-Pacific markets, stated to Arab News last year that Saudi Arabia aimed to welcome over 3.5 million tourists from Pakistan by 2030.

In the meantime, the Riyadh Season draws a lot of tourists with events and activities in the areas of fine arts, crafts, electronics, fashion, entertainment, and communication.

Events during the Riyadh Season have attracted over 12 million visitors since October 11 of last year. One of the main Saudi events, it aspires to establish new concepts in the entertainment industry and elevate Riyadh to the top of the international entertainment and culinary scene.

Two to three percent of Saudi Arabia’s GDP is derived from tourism. However, the Kingdom hopes to raise the percentage to 10% of GDP by 2030 with investments in the tourism industry.

Over the next few years, Saudi Arabia intends to launch a number of tourism-oriented projects, such as the Red Sea project, an upscale development with inland and island resorts.

The Kingdom also plans to turn AlUla and its majestic rock-hewn tombs of Madain Saleh, the relics of an ancient civilization, into a global tourism destination and eventually attract millions of visitors, local and foreign alike.

AlUla’s development is part of a push to preserve pre-Islamic heritage sites to attract non-Muslim tourists and strengthen national identity.

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