Around 80,000 Saudi citizens trained, qualified to work in tourist sector: Minister

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Saudi Minister of Tourism, Ahmed al-Khateeb, said the tourism sector in the Kingdom in particular, and the economy in general, was witnessing unprecedented growth, and called on hospitality operators, workers, and investors to keep pace with these rapid developments.

According to the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA), the minister made the statement on Wednesday during his monthly meeting held virtually with more than 100 hospitality operators and investors from various parts of the Kingdom, in the presence of Princess Haifa bint Mohammed, Deputy Minister of Tourism, and a number of senior ministry officials.

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During the meeting, al-Khateeb said the aim of the new tourism regulations was to support innovation and boost the tourism sector, underlining the Ministry’s keenness to attract investments in the tourism sector.

File photo of Ahmed Al- Khateeb, Saudi Tourism Minister, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. (Reuters)
File photo of Ahmed Al- Khateeb, Saudi Tourism Minister, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. (Reuters)

“The launch of the new tourism regulations, according to the minister, documents the aspirations of Kingdom’s leadership and attract investments -- one of the pillars of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030.

Al-Khateeb said the Kingdom’s leadership was looking forward to diversifying the national economy, strengthening its non-oil economy, as well as attract 100 million visitors annually by 2030.

“We have been working on developing and enriching the tourism regulation in the Kingdom to culminate in a series of legislations and regulations issued over the past three years, with the aim of achieving the targets of the national strategy for tourism,” he added.

This involved upgrading and promoting the sector and its attractiveness based on the best practices that were selected based on the index of the top 20 countries in the competitiveness of travel and tourism issued by the World Economic Forum (WEF).

The Tourism Minister stressed the importance of localizing the tourism sector and enhancing the role of citizens in its growth and prosperity, pointing out that the ministry has allocated $107 million (400 million riyals) to train and qualify 100,000 citizens to work in the local tourism sector, including 10,000 young men and women who are currently training outside the Kingdom in a some of the most prestigious hotel and tourism education institutions globally.

He pointed out that the ministry has so far completed the training of 80,000 Saudi young men and women, who are now ready to work in the sector.

The ministry is also currently moving towards adopting various technological innovations to enhance communication with various categories of beneficiaries, especially hospitality operators and investors.

Al-Khateeb also stressed that the ministry will not hesitate to protect investments and the rights of operators of hospitality facility operators, take care of them, and harness all capabilities that ensure their growth and prosperity.

He confirmed that the Ministry has adopted flexibility with regard to the requirements in the regions of Mecca and Madinah, including the allowing of the size of the hospitality units to differ from the standard specifications by no more than 30 percent of the size specified for no more than 20 percent of the total hotel units. The flexibility in requirements allow a 10 percent discrepancy rate in changing toilet spaces, exempting a four-star rating from a fitness room, and other exemptions that support hospitality facilities in the two holy cities.

Regarding inspections of hospitality facilities, al-Khateeb affirmed that the Ministry attaches great importance to this aspect in order to raise the sector to the best international standards adopted in the field of tourism. He said the owners and investors of hospitality facilities need to adjust their conditions during the next three months, expressing that he and the entire ministerial team aspired that the sector be one of the most successful economic sectors in the Kingdom.

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