Saudis to spend SR70bn on foreign tourism this year


Muhaideb Al-Muhaideb, chairman of the travel agents committee at the Riyadh Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said some European countries were taking 30 days to issue tourist visas. However, he pointed out that Britain was issuing visas within 24 hours.

According to Dr. Nasser Al-Tayar, general manager of Al-Tayar Travel & Tourism, Malaysia is the favorite destination of Saudi tourists in Asia. “For many, Egypt is the favorite destination in the Arab world and all the flights to Egypt are fully booked until mid-August,” he said.

Al-Muhaideb said Switzerland is the number one destination of Saudi tourists in Europe. In Switzerland, the price of a double bedroom will cost between SR700 and SR2,000 for a night. Britain, France, Italy and Germany are other favorite European destinations for Saudis.

Al-Muhaideb said he expected a 10 percent increase in the number of Saudi tourists going to Malaysia this season compared to last year.

Many Saudi families prefer to spend their holidays in this Southeast Asian country as a result of its peaceful atmosphere, salubrious climate and reasonable prices. He said the number of Saudis visiting the United States, Canada, Australia and South Africa was likely to increase by 10 percent this year.

Many Saudi tourists may drop Lebanon from their list as a result of the country’s political and security problems. “Other major Arab destinations like Syria, Jordan and Tunisia will also get a good number of Saudi tourists,” he said.

Analysts believe that the growing cost in foreign tourism is likely to encourage many Saudis to spend their holidays within the Kingdom.

The Supreme Commission for Tourism (SCT) has stepped up efforts to promote domestic tourism by expanding tourist infrastructure facilities and organizing tourist festivals.

Makkah Governor Prince Khaled Al-Faisal recently met with SCT’s Secretary-General Prince Sultan ibn Salman and emphasized the need for the equal distribution of major tourist destinations among the Kingdom’s 13 regions. During the meeting, Prince Khaled was briefed on a number of projects in Jeddah and Taif. “Jeddah will become an all-year-round integrated tourist destination,” the SCT chief said.

Prince Sultan also disclosed plans to launch a new festival named Abhur Tourism Festival this year. It will be held annually during the Eid Al-Fitr, a feast marking the end of the fasting month of Ramadan. Another festival named Okaz Souk Festival will be launched in Taif this year, he said. “We’ll develop this festival into a major annual national festival,” he added.


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