Prince Sultan bin Salman, chairman of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTNH), said that the Kingdom will witness a revival of its tourism and national heritage sector in the next two years due in large part to the state’s ongoing support of large development projects in the sector.
Prince Sultan’s remarks came during a press conference after the conclusion of the 19th session of the Council of Arab Ministers of Tourism, which was chaired by Omani Minister of Tourism Ahmed Al-Mahrazi, and attended by tourism ministers of Arab States. The meeting was also attended by the head of the Arab Organization for Tourism, Bandar Al-Fahaid, on Wednesday night in the Omani capital of Muscat.
Prince Sultan said the Kingdom relies on tourism, which has become one of the main tracks in the National Transformation Program to establish a sustainable economic sector.
He pointed to a number of large-scale projects in the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Program for Care of National Heritage in the Kingdom, which is personally monitored and supported by King Salman. He said a budget was approved for the first phase of the project, which has reached nearly SR4 billion ($1.06 billion). SR1.3 billion has been allocated to the 2017 budget. He said tourism today is a social reality, not a luxury.
Prince Sultan also highlighted the partnership between the tourism and private sectors, as well as the private sector’s support for the main objectives, and launch of new tourism projects. He said the Kingdom recommended hosting a forum for tourism investors and an exhibition for tourism projects in the Arab world during the 20th session of the Council of Arab Ministers of Tourism meeting.
During the session, participants discussed a number of issues related to enhancing tourism cooperation between Arab states. The session saw the approval and adoption of the working regulations of the Technical Committee for Arab Tourism, which will play a role in pushing forward joint Arab action in the field of tourism. Also adopted was the charter for the protection of architectural heritage in Arab states, and the development of the Economic and Social Council.
Participants reviewed the report of the monitoring and implementation committee of the Arab tourism strategy.
The council welcomed the decision of the Arab League to adopt the charter for the protection of architectural heritage in Arab states. The meeting also addressed putting in place quality standards for tourism in the field of media and travel, and tourism agencies, to be supervised by the Arab Organization for Tourism. This would help monitor developments and support the advancement of the Arab tourism sector, as well as help exchange ideas and successful experiences.
In addition, the council welcomed the proposal of the Arab Organization for Tourism to benefit from an agreement with the Islamic Corporation for Instance of Investment and Export Credit (ICIEC) to promote investment policies in Arab countries and urged Arab states to benefit from this insurance to attract more tourism investment.