Saudi Arabia has been making significant moves to open up its borders to international tourists. Investing in tourism infrastructure, prioritizing transformation of unreachable attractions into accessible hotspots, providing tourist visas for the first time, and changing restrictive rules for women such as once-mandatory abayas (robe-like black dresses) are just some of the steps taken to change the Kingdom’s perception on the world stage and make it a tourist destination. “Opening Saudi Arabia to international tourists is a historic moment for our country,” said tourism chief Ahmed Al-Khateeb, according to Arab News.
Though still nascent, the domestic and international inbound travel segments in Saudi Arabia have been slowly evolving. The Kingdom has been making visible efforts to improve its infrastructure, encourage private investment to provide travelers with more places to visit, create entertainment options, and relax rules that previously made Saudi Arabia impermeable. In sharp contrast, the outbound travel market is quite mature. Saudi Arabians travel all over the world on a frequent basis and are high spenders. If anything, they are increasingly aligning with world travel trends and becoming more nuanced in their choices.
These evolutions present an opportunity for travel brands around the world. For the first time, travel brands can not only grow their businesses by attracting more Saudi travelers but also by being present in Saudi Arabia. However, in order for travel brands to find the right investment opportunities, understand the cultural nuances of conducting business there, target the right travelers, and capitalize on the growth spurt in the Kingdom, a strategic partner with expertise and understanding of the region is key.
Seera Group, one of the largest travel and tourism groups in the Middle East, with 40 years of experience across various travel verticals including consumer travel, corporate and government travel, Hajj and Umrah travel, hospitality, car rental and most recently, destination management for Saudi Arabia, believes that the time for a change in Saudi Arabia is now. “Think about Manhattan in the early 1900s, Berlin’s transformation in the 1990s, and Dubai’s in the 2000s. That time is now for Saudi Arabia — to experience and drive unprecedented economic and social change,” said Ross McAuley, vice president of marketing for Seera Group. “And travel and tourism, to me, is both a key driver and beneficiary of that change.”
As Seera Group partners with Saudi Tourism and other international brands to tap into the potential of Saudi travel and tourism, SkiftX has partnered with the company to unearth some of the top trends and growth opportunities in the region.