Saudi Arabia to exhibit at World Travel Market for first time

Last year WTM facilitated business deals worth more than £2.2 billion ($2.92 billion) – with Middle Eastern exhibitors benefiting from £144 million of business

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World Travel Market, the leading global event for the travel industry, is delighted to welcome representation from Saudi Arabia onto the exhibition floor for the first time this year, as the Saudi government unveils plans to invest heavily into its tourism industry over the next decade.

Representation from The Saudi Commission for Tourism & Antiquities (SCTA), along with the country’s national airline Saudi Airlines and flynas, the leading low-cost Saudi airline offering cheap flights to the Middle East, Europe and Asia will all be exhibiting at WTM in London on Nov. 3-6, 2014.

Last year WTM facilitated business deals worth more than £2.2 billion ($2.92 billion) – with Middle Eastern exhibitors benefiting from £144 million of business.

This was generated through contracts signed with WTM Buyers’ Club members at the event or from further negotiations, which will conclude before WTM 2014.

The plan for the Saudi government to invest over £18 billion in tourism from 2013 to 2023 was reported last year in a MENA tourism and hospitality report by research consultancy Aranca.

Their main objectives are to provide employment opportunities for the many Saudi graduates and cope with the increasing number of visitors, which is estimated to increase at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 2 percent to 21.3 million over the next decade.

The SCTA recently announced its £1.85 million plan to set-up tourist information centers across the country that provides information on domestic events.

Ramadan festivals have just been held in several regions around Saudi, with the country witnessing an upward trend in domestic tourism.

The SCTA reporting a 25 percent increase in domestic trips in the Kingdom from 19 million in 2012 to 23.8 million trips being made last year.

Hamad A Alsheikh, VP for Marketing and Programs at the SCTA, said on their main reasons for being at WTM for the first time this year: “Saudi aims to highlight the historic potentials of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as a crossroad of civilizations through displaying part of its history, heritage, achievements and tourism potentials by way of print material and direct communication.

“We plan to highlight and introduce the existing tourism investments in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in different fields, especially in the convention and exhibition sector and accommodation sector, in addition to other tourism and investment areas.”

World Travel Market Senior Exhibition Director Simon Press said: “I am delighted to see Saudi at World Travel Market this year for the first time; it’s great that the government has put the spotlight on tourism within the Kingdom and can see the huge potential and benefits it is likely to reap.

“I am confident that WTM will aid Saudi with their ambitious plans, and ensure plenty of networking and business deals are facilitated over the four days of the event.”

This article was first published in Saudi Gazette on Thursday, Aug. 21, 2014.

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