Saudi Arabia launches new global tourism campaign
The state tourism authority of Saudi Arabia is not waiting for borders to reopen in order to work on getting tourism back on track towards their highly ambitious “vision 2030” goals.
A new TV ad campaign was launched in January, on international channels like CNN, hot on the heels of an announcement that the nation is due to lift travel restrictions and allow the resumption of international flights from the end of March. Run in 26 countries and 13 languages, the campaign is also run outdoors, on digital media and social media, underlining the fact that Saudi is a country of natural beauty, great diversity and rich in culture and heritage.
Saudi is a new destination on the global tourism stage and for Saudi Tourism Authority (STA), the mandate is to help achieve the ambitious vision of 100 million visitors from the domestic, regional and international markets. With 15 priority markets identified spanning 30 countries around the world, it has been critical for STA to set up the infrastructure to support this growth.
The tourism authority is thus in the process of building an integrated global team to showcase Saudi’s diverse offering of cultural adventures, world class heritage sites and authentic Arabian hospitality.
The STA has already established presence in the European market, including the UK and Ireland, Russia and CIS, Germany, Austria and Switzerland and will be setting up representative offices in other markets including France, Italy and Benelux.
This is part of their strategy to engage the tourism trade and raise awareness of the destination as travellers around the world dream of exploring exotic destinations once more.
Saudi had opened its borders in September 2019, rapidly establishing itself as the fastest growing tourism destination in the world, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council. With this in mind, STA has continued to invest so to prepare the destination for the time when borders reopen and travel safely resumes.
Whatever one’s pleasure, this list of Saudi’s five must-visit destinations offers a journey that has never been imagined… until today.
On the outskirts of Riyadh is the UNESCO World Heritage site of Diriyah, the ancestral seat of the ruling Al Saud family. Travellers can wander through the narrow alleyways between mud-brick houses, explore the museums of Saudi culture and history, including the Salwa Palace, the most massive standing structure in the citadel. They can then stroll around the local eateries and coffee shops to sample traditional Najd delicacies, surrounded by lush greenery, ponds, and much more. In short, it’s a case of escaping to a vision of Saudi’s storied past.
AlUla is a stunning destination embracing 200,000 years of human history, breath-taking natural rock formations, iconic modern architecture and Hegra, one of the most recognisable images of Saudi. Visitors can explore more than 100 monolithic rock-cut tombs carved by the Nabateaen civilisation, or read the history of the region, recorded in ancient inscriptions on the surrounding cliffs. The mirror-clad Maraya Concert Hall is one of the world’s “most Instagrammable buildings”.
The ancient centre of Jeddah, the “Bride of the Red Sea”, was built in the 7th century as a gateway for pilgrims making their way to Makkah. The refurbished Makkah Gate today serves as the entrance to an intriguing and cosmopolitan blend of ancient and modern. Visitors can browse through the colourful Souq Al Alawi, Saudi’s largest souq, which fills the narrow alleyways with the scent of exotic spices and a kaleidoscope of colourful wares. Heritage houses nestle among the intricately designed 500-year-old buildings, built using coral from the Red Sea. One can finish one’s day with a sumptuous meal of fresh seafood looking out over the waters of the Red Sea. An experience to delight all the senses.
A journey to the cool northern mountains enables the visitor to experience Taif, the City of Roses. In the spring, the clear mountain air is infused with the scent from more than 90 rose farms which give the city its name. Taif produces some of the world’s most expensive rose oil which is an ingredient in luxurious perfumes from around the world. Local rose water is also an ingredient in Taif’s cuisine. The renovated city centre houses the Taif Central Market where one can browse traditional goods, such as jewellery, oud and healing herbs. It’s a true breath of fresh air.
The Red Sea
The Saudi Red Sea is a natural treasure house of thriving coral reefs and abundant marine life. Extending 1,700km from the Gulf of Aqaba in the north to the Farasan Islands in the south, the eastern reaches of the Red Sea are a stunning destination for divers, snorkelers and other ocean enthusiasts. Whether it’s a scintillating sunset by the beach, exploring the vibrant reefs or diving on one of the coast’s enigmatic shipwrecks, the Red Sea is a destination like no other in the world. The visitor is immersed in unforgettable natural beauty.
Photo: Al Bahah, Saudi Arabia – © Kemo Sahab – Unsplash