JEDDAH — Prince Abdulaziz Bin Turki Al-Faisal , chairman of the General Sports Authority (GSA), has reaffirmed that the timing is ideal for the world to come and discover the striking beauty of Saudi Arabia.
He said this during a dialogue session moderated by the CEO of the Commission for Developing Diriya Gate, Gerard Anzero, during the ceremony “Welcoming the world” held by the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH) simultaneously with the announcement of the tourism visa in Riyadh on Friday.
He said sports have an important role in enhancing tourism via sports events, like Formula E. Sports also support the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 in a great way as well as the youths’ participation in international sports competitions. He drew attention to GSA’s endeavor to enhance sports among all segments of the society, particularly among children.
Al-Faisal added that the GSA has magnificent sports events in different seasons, like horse races and other equestrian sports, and camel races during the summer. Also the Kingdom’s geographical diversity helps in creating sports events for the summer and winter seasons.
Meanwhile, Ahmed Bin Aqeel Al-Khateeb, chairman of the Board of Directors of Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH), asserted that the Kingdom’s infrastructure is ready.
“We have roads and huge airports ready. At present, the Kingdom is focusing on constructing mega projects including increasing the number of hotels, airline routes, and expanding airports so as to develop the sector and create a large number of jobs for Saudis after training them.”
Al-Khateeb added: “One of the goals of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 is to support tourism, as the Kingdom has a diverse geographical environment, its culture is deep-rooted, it has a great people, and it has a lot to share with the world.”
Meantime, the Deputy Minister of Culture Hamid Bin Muhammad Fayiz said: “We have spent a long time (eight months) during which we exerted great efforts under the leadership of Prince Badr Al-Farhan, minister of culture, to set the goals and strategy.
“These we will follow to enhance our deep-rooted cultural values and prepare answers to questions on the role of the ministry in inculcating the cultural values of our Saudi society. We also aim to make culture a part of daily life for all individuals of the society.”
“The Ministry of Culture is expected to contribute to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) from SR16 billion to over SR100 billion by the year 2030. The Kingdom has what makes it distinctive culturally and in its heritage. The world will discover the Kingdom’s beauty and its diversity. They will realize that one visit is not enough,” Fayiz said.
Speaking on determining the most prominent elements of attraction and developing the tourist industry, Zorab Bololika Shevli, secretary general of the UN Organization for Global Tourism, said: “Automation of the international visa procedures is one of the most important steps for attracting tourists. In this regard, Saudi Arabia has launched an electronic platform for the issuance of visas, hence encouraging many to visit the Kingdom.”
He added that the infrastructure including communications and airports, among other means of transport come second. The cultural wealth, for which the Kingdom is well known, follows. He stressed the importance of enhancing tourism by acquainting people with the tourist sites, various cuisines, and cultural and heritage diversity.
For her part, Gloria Joveira Manzo, president of the World Travel and Tourism Council, stressed the importance of cooperation between the government and private sectors so as to upgrade the tourism industry, provide direct and indirect jobs in this vital sector and enhance the national income.
The Kingdom announced the beginning of receiving tourists from different parts of the world via the new entry visas system, which kicked off on Friday. With this, the tourist can get a tourist visa valid for one year allowing him to stay in the Kingdom for up to 90 days per visit.