Tuesday, April 04, 2006


This Just In…


It’s been a while since we’ve had anything from the “Sand” part of Sand and Tsunamis…so, here’s something from the Arab News.


Saudi Arabia Plans New Tourism Initiatives


Arab News - 04/04/2006




JEDDAH, 4 April 2006 — With plans under way of granting tourist visas to visitors, Saudi Arabia is considering the introduction of new tourism initiatives, a Gulf expert on tourism said on Sunday.

"The Kingdom, under the direction of Supreme Commission of Tourism and its Secretary General Prince Sultan ibn Salman, is soon launching a new initiative to focus on the country's diverse cultural and geographical attractions." David Rose, managing director of Dubai-based Action, part of Action global Communications Group, founder member of the Middle East PR Association, told a press conference at Jeddah Hilton.

Rose, whose main emphasis was on the upcoming Arabian Travel Market 2006 being held at the Dubai World Trade Center from May 2-5, said Prince Sultan would be participating in the ATM where the Kingdom would unveil a range of new tourism initiatives.

The last four years have seen significant investment in the Kingdom's tourism infrastructure with the opening of new hotels, resorts and tourist apartments. Increasing attention is being paid to sports tourism including swimming, diving, parachuting and even bungee jumping. Modern shopping malls and traditional old markets are part of the Kingdom's heritage and history.

The Kingdom's tourism industry is an effective competitor in a very crowded global market. "Its inbound tourism alone generated more than $5.6 billion in 2005," Rose said, adding that nearly eight million trips were made to this part of the world, generating more than 99 million visitor nights. "It's expected that tourism revenues will double over the next 20 years," Rose added.

The SCT is sharing its exhibition stand with at least six companies including Ajyad Makkah Makarim Hotel, Al Jazirah Transport, Dar Al-Manasek Tourism & Umrah, Elaf Travel & Tourism, Rifada Global Investment & Development and the Unique Choice.

The Saudi outbound market, with national and expatriates making more than 7.9 million international trips with an annual spend of more than $15 billion, will be highly sought after at the ATM.

"Many of the destinations taking part this year are actively looking for networking opportunities with Saudi travel agents and tour operators," Rose said on behalf of Reed Travel Exhibitions, which organizes ATM. Its exhibitors are from 47 countries including 46 national and regional pavilions. "The show's growth is being fueled by a substantial influx of new-to-market destinations and products," he added.

SOURCE:  http://www.menafn.com/qn_news_story_s.asp?StoryId=131564


 I think this is a great idea…Technically, after oil, tourism is already the main money maker for Saudi Arabia, but it’s primarily related to the Hajj.  If they decide to open up the country to true tourism, that would be a great thing.  There’s a lot to see, from Nabataean ruins (like Petra) in the north, to diving in the Red Sea around Jeddah, rock climbing in the mountains along the western part of the country, and my own personal favorite, the Empty Quarter.  Go here for the tale of 5 days in the desert in late 2004.  There really is a great deal of interesting sights and the culture is really fascinating…

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