Skift Take

It may not feature a footballer, but AlUla hopes its new global brand campaign will drive international visits.

Saudi Arabia has launched a global brand campaign for its cultural tourism site AlUla, home to ancient ruins and a growing list of luxury hotels. The “Forever Revitalising” campaign has been produced in six languages with events in Dubai, London, New York, Paris, Shanghai, and Mumbai.

Unlike other recent pushes from Saudi’s many tourism destinations, the AlUla campaign doesn’t rely on an international celebrity, such as Lionel Messi or Will Smith. Rather, it is a stripped-back video showing natural locations and interactions with locals.

The message is that AlUla offers a quieter form of travel than some of the kingdom’s more bombastic projects.

The centerpiece of AlUla is Hegra, Saudi Arabia’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site. In recent years, the desert area has seen a surge in development, with its own concert hall, a string of restaurants and a handful of internationally-operated hotels.

Late 2021 was a turning point for AlUla: The Habitas hotel opened, a small property that catapulted AlUla to the top of many peoples’ Instagram algorithms.

In October 2022, Accor brought a Banyan Tree to the location, hosting a lavish party to celebrate the opening. The celebration included a private concert by Mariah Carey.

“Forever Revitalising is not only about driving global awareness of a destination that till recently was relatively unknown to most travelers, but it is also about communicating the breadth and depth of the programs and initiatives [at AlUla],” said Melanie de Souza, executive director, destination marketing at Royal Commission for AlUla.

AlUla aims to create 38,000 new jobs, contribute SAR 120 billion ($32 billion) to the kingdom’s GDP, and increase the population to 130,000 by 2035.

A Look at Saudi Tourism

As part of its vision of transforming into a tourism and leisure powerhouse by 2030, Saudi Arabia plans to attract 150 million tourists every year with tourism contributing 10% of the Saudi economy. The country has also eased entry norms, having developed the eVisa program that now includes 63 countries and special administrative regions, as well as the GCC residents visa.

Here are the country’s tourism numbers in 2023:

  • Saudi saw 77 million domestic tourists and 27 million international ones, totaling 104 million visits.
  • 77 million is the same number of domestic tourists Saudi had in 2022. The overall figure was boosted by 11 million international visitors.
  • Total spending reached SAR100 billion ($26.67 billion) last year.

Middle East Travel Roundup

Get the latest news from the Middle East in one easy-to-digest newsletter.

Have a confidential tip for Skift? Get in touch

Tags: alula, saudi arabia, Saudi Tourism, Tourism news, travel news

Photo credit: A Habitas creation at Alula, a cultural tourism site in Saudi Arabia. Source: Habitas.

Up Next

Loading next stories