The coronavirus pandemic may have disrupted the global travel business, but one Saudi Arabian travel firm has used the fallout from COVID-19 to ready itself to cater for international visitors, a company executive told Al Arabiya English.
Seera Group's strong liquidity position, combined with several actions taken to mitigate the impact of the virus, has helped the group overcome challenges setting the company up to emerge stronger as the travel sector recovers, said Muzzammil Ahussain, Executive Vice President of the Seera Group.
“COVID pushed us to pivot our focus from outbound and inbound, to domestic travel,” he said, adding that the pandemic “served as the perfect ‘training ground for us to get ready and equipped with assets, infrastructure, partnerships, and service quality, to later cater to international visitors in the best way possible.”
As borders open to vaccinated travelers, Seera is seeing a rise in the number of bookings in its consumer business.
Bookings for its consumer travel unit are already starting to rise again due to the opening of borders for vaccinated travelers, he said.
To streamline processes in this division it announced last week at Arabian Travel Market (ATM) a strategic partnership with Klook, a travel and leisure booking platform that will support the digital transformation and robust growth of Saudi Arabia’s tourism sector, he added.
“The ecosystem needs to come together to create smooth and consistent experiences for travelers,” said Ahussain. “For global travel to resume, we need to get people confident in travel again by standardizing regulations that need to be outlined and formed with bilateral agreements. Furthermore, strong assets need to be developed to further grow domestic tourism and create a platform for inbound tourism,” he explained.
Seera Group comprises several divisions and brands dedicating specific services to travelers and tourists.
Mawasim is the Hajj and Umrah division of Seera Group, and over the years, the brand has grown to become a trusted B2B travel services provider offering pilgrims a simple booking experience, Ahussain said.
As part of the goals of Saudi Vision 2030 the country aims to welcome 30 million pilgrims by 2030.
The cultural and heritage tourism segment of the tourism sector is also something Seera is tapping into.
Ahussain noted that this is a growth area for Saudi Arabia with greater awareness about archaeological sites, and the rich culture and heritage that can be found in the Kingdom, adding that The Royal Commission for AlUla appointed Seera Group as DMC partner for ‘Winter at Tantora’ in 2019.
“Seera Group was chosen for its integrated breadth of offering covering not only travel and flight bookings but also airport handling, accommodation, ground transportation in AlUla, guest management, ticketing, VIP services and other value-added offerings” he said.
With the Red Sea witnessing huge resort development plans scattered down its coast, this should be a huge growth area for Seera’s business, he said.
The company is already working very closely with Saudi Tourism to cater to all travel groups including luxury high-end travelers, along with groups from various regions such as Russia, China, and Europe, he revealed.
“Saudi Red Sea tourism will be a major focus for the Kingdom and the catalyst for a new tourism industry as borders open,” he added.
Another brand falling under the Seera umbrella is its car rental business which has 13,000 vehicles spread across the country, while it has launched Almosafer’s ‘Concierge’ as part of its private jet offerings.
In 2015, Seera Group rebranded itself from al-Tayyar Travel Group while updating the entire operational system, along with its portfolio of business units.
Utilizing the knowledge and expertise of over 40 years it stepped “into the new dawn of travel’” he said. “Seera as a brand represents that in essence because it stands for the journey of a traveler.”