Saudi Arabia is set to develop a domestic tourism destination worth over 2.5 billion riyals ($666 million), an official told Al Arabiya.
The project, due to be announced after the Eid holiday that marks the end of Ramadan, comes amid rising demand for tourism in the kingdom, said Prince Sultan bin Salman, president of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA).
“The demands for domestic tourism in Saudi Arabia have increased unexpectedly,” Prince Sultan said. “But despite [this] the tourism projects and destinations offered in Saudi Arabia are not meeting demand.”
He explained that the kingdom differs from other GCC countries that rely heavily on tourism. “While tourism is essential to the economy, Saudi Arabia views tourism as a means to boost employment opportunities,” said the SCTA president.
Prince Sultan did not give further details of the new project, one of a number of new tourism initiatives planned in Saudi Arabia.
He confirmed the development of the al-Aqeer corniche, located in the eastern Saudi Arabian province of al-Ahsa. He said that development is expected to attract both local citizens and visitors from other GCC countries.
Saudi Arabia has proposed the launch of a tourism investment and development company, which would execute large tourism projects and lure private developers and investors, noted the president. An initiative to boost financing in the sector is also awaiting approval, he added.
The SCTA president called for a greater focus on tourism in Saudi Arabia.
“Some tourism projects have been proposed before many of Dubai’s tourism projects. But in Saudi, those are still undergoing approvals and are yet to be executed,” he said.
Prince Sultan stressed that “the commission is racing against time to turn Saudi Arabia into an integrated tourist hotspot.”