Saudi Arabia to tap unexplored potential of cave tourism

As these national treasures and their surrounding environs have fragile ecosystems, they need to be protected to ensure their survival as well as that of the endemic wildlife preserved by them

  
Majestic rock-hewn tombs of Madain Saleh are seen near the city al-Ula, Saudi Arabia January 25, 2019.Image used for illustrative purpose.

Majestic rock-hewn tombs of Madain Saleh are seen near the city al-Ula, Saudi Arabia January 25, 2019.Image used for illustrative purpose.

REUTERS/Faisal Al Nasser

RIYADH Saudi Arabia is vigorously promoting cave tourism as a safe and enjoyable source of adventure after identifying various types of caves as ecotourism destinations as part of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 tourism initiative.

Most of these subterranean caves unlock hidden treasures of Saudi Arabia’s geotourism wonders. As these national treasures and their surrounding environs have fragile ecosystems, they need to be protected to ensure their survival as well as that of the endemic wildlife preserved by them.

Muhammad Al-Shanti, chief geologist and head of the cave studies department at the Saudi Geological Survey (SGS), said that there are dozens of caves in the Kingdom that are naturally ready for safe adventure tourism. While speaking to Okaz/Saudi Gazette, he highlighted the significance of cave tourism.

“Studies by international experts have proven that the tourists desire to enjoy an adventure experience and visit a dark cave under the surface of the earth to see the beautiful cave components and these will be under the supervision of specialists.

All of this underscore the importance of cave tourism and adds it to tourism programs in any country that hosts caves in its geographical surroundings,” he said while revealing that SGS is currently working on studying and discovering subterranean cavities, with the aim of preparing and developing them to open up to tourists.

Presenting a working paper at one of the sessions of the Seventh Saudi Forum for Tourist Guidance on Tuesday, Al-Shanti said that Saudi Arabia has dozens of caves that embrace the history and secrets of humanity that can only be obtained through the caves and their walls.

“The nature of the caves and the beauty of their internal components are a cause for academic studies and scientific research, and they are also distinguished tourist routes, and thus they are considered as a tourist and environmental wealth that are rare and must be preserved and protected.”

“SGS has worked to prepare a development plan for a number of them and will start receiving tourists therein, while the urgent needs of other caves have been identified, and geological research continues to discover more,” he said while noting that cave tourism in particular is one of the tourism patterns that are highly popular, on the part of those seeking adventure and pleasure or from the perspective of scientific researchers as well.

Al-Shanti highlighted the importance of exploiting caves in terms of tourism, and deepening their utilization as an economic wealth, as cave tourism is one of the tourist activities that are concerned with the experience of seeing hidden gems in a vast desert and mountain environment. It will also contribute to gaining knowledge about this unique ecosystem, he said.

“The Kingdom’s Vision 2030 is based on exploiting caves for tourism purposes that benefit the national economy, raising the level of societal awareness of the existence of such wealth in the Kingdom and helping to explore new areas and opportunities that would make desert ecotourism flourish in the Kingdom on a large scale,” Al-Shanti added.

More than 1,000 male and female guides from within the Kingdom and outside are taking part in the forum, which aims to contribute to the creation of an appropriate environment for those working in the profession as well as to market male and female guides and help them benefit from international experiences in this major tourism field.

 

© Copyright 2021 The Saudi Gazette. All Rights Reserved. Provided by SyndiGate Media Inc. (Syndigate.info).

Disclaimer: The content of this article is syndicated or provided to this website from an external third party provider. We are not responsible for, and do not control, such external websites, entities, applications or media publishers. The body of the text is provided on an “as is” and “as available” basis and has not been edited in any way. Neither we nor our affiliates guarantee the accuracy of or endorse the views or opinions expressed in this article. Read our full disclaimer policy here.

More From Travel & Tourism