Riyadh: Saudi puts a full stop to the three months closure of the domestic tourism due to the global pandemic. Almost all domestic tourist spots will be restarting from June 21st. The Minister of Tourism Ahmed Al Khateeb declared this on Friday. The ministry had earlier conducted an opinion poll for the Saudi citizens whether or not to open the tourism. Al Khateeb detailed on the opinion poll: “It was revealed in a research study carried out by the Tourism Authority that 80 per cent of Saudi citizens want to take advantage of domestic tourism. We will launch the domestic tourism programme for the public after having made necessary coordination with the Ministry of Health and the concerned higher authorities”.
He added that eventhough the stimulus package declared by the government revived the tourism sector, resumption of domestic tourism will help reduce Covid-19’s negative impact on the tourism sector. “Saudi Arabia has initiated a package of financial stimulus activities with a total value of more than $61 billion to protect jobs and businesses and reduce the economic burden of the crisis. The domestic tourism sector has benefited from it as one of the important economic sectors, as it covered 60 per cent of salaries of Saudi employees in the private sector for a period of three months”, Al Khateeb added.
However, the Ministry of Health seems to be disappointed with the decision. The spokesman of the Health Ministry warned that the pandemic is not over eventhough cases had decreased. “The virus is still there, the virus is active, the pandemic is still there, and there is still no vaccine. Research is ongoing, and we are hopeful. Treatment protocols are constantly being updated,” the spokesman of the Health Ministry Mohammed Al Abd Al Ali made a remark on Thursday. “A return to normalcy is now possible, but must be done with caution,” Al Abd Al Ali added. Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia has so far reported 1,54,991 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus and 1,184 deaths.
Majid Al Hokair, Chief Executive Officer of Al Hokair Group, a major Saudi entertainment and hospitality group said that acceleration of development in the tourism sector would increase the Kingdom’s opportunities in the new tourism map. Al Hokair added that the current trend of the tourism and travel sector is activating domestic tourism between neighboring countries such as those in Europe, other than that limited numbers of foreign tourists will go to other destinations. “Continuous warnings of precautionary protocols and bans will also affect tourism on the short and long run,” he said, indicating that the Saudi Tourism Authority focused on the marketing side and has been working on many initiatives for domestic tourism destinations.
Saudi had already announced a sound programme for domestic tourism upheaval. Those included enhancing tourist destinations like Yanbu, Umluj and Jeddah, and after that Mecca will be available for the performance of Umrah, Taif, and the southern Suda and its environs. Al Hokair suggested there will be a great dependence on domestic tourism during the coming period.
Khaled Al Rasheed, CEO of the Arab Tourist Experts Association, told that the Kingdom is an important tourist destination, featuring many different tourist attractions. The Two Holy Mosques developed tourist infrastructure, and high spending from the state through giant projects in the tourism sector enabled the Ministry to build a global competitive tourist destination and promote it through marketing campaigns. They can also use global events embraced by the Kingdom, such as international festivals and exhibitions, and the great tourist movement.