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Hoteliers say Saudi Arabia is developing as a destination outside of religious tourism

Licencing, regulation and government support play a major role in transforming the country into a more attractive destination. SCTA has recently announced the new hotel licensing and classification requirements for hotel operators in Saudi, which aims to streamline the facilities and services related to tourism in general and to guide their activities besides protecting tourist interests.

UAE – AHIC speakers were at another Saudi City this week exploring hotel investment opportunities and expanding the hoteliers network across the region. The Riyadh Regional Briefing took place this week at the Ritz Carlton Riyadh in  Saudi Arabia.

Hosted by Marriott International Inc., the Briefing was attended by a number of industry leaders and renowned experts including: Costas Verginis, Vice President Development Middle East, Marriott International and The Ritz-Carlton Company., Philip Wooller, Area Director of Middle East & Africa at STR Global, Christopher Lund, Associate Manager of Hotels MENA Region at Colliers International, Saad Alqahtani, Manager Accommodation at The Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities  (SCTA), and Chiheb Ben Mahmoud, Executive Vice President and Head of Hotels & Hospitality of Middle East & Africa at JLL.

Costas Verginis said: “The Kingdom remains a top priority for Marriott International, as the future outlook of the hospitality industry in Saudi Arabia is very positive. With strides by the government to diversify the economy through major infrastructure projects and other initiatives, including a major focus on tourism and hospitality, the Kingdom is creating opportunities to further develop cultural, religious and business tourism targeting domestic, regional and international visitors.”

Attendees at the Riydah Briefing discussed plans for the development of tourism within the Kingdom to become a destination outside of religious tourism. Chiheb Ben Mahmoud said:

“Endowed with a unique and diverse heritage of natural and archaeological sites, Saudi Arabia could potentially attract, to its various destinations, the most sophisticated global travellers. Not mass numbers but the few hundred thousands of discerning travellers from across the world and for whom travel is closer to a scientific and academic endeavour than a leisurely tour. Saudi Arabia is in the best position, to redefine tourism.”

Chiheb added: “Saudi Arabia international tourism is yet to find its own model, it’s own paradigm, although the achievements of the SCTA are impressive in laying the foundation of a sound tourism and hospitality sector.”

Licencing, regulation and government support play a major role in transforming the country into a more attractive destination. SCTA has recently announced the new hotel licensing and classification requirements for hotel operators in Saudi, which aims to streamline the facilities and services related to tourism in general and to guide their activities besides protecting tourist interests.

The audience also listened to a Project update by Richard Thompson, Editorial Director of MEED, with an overview of the large scale projects underway in the Kingdom, and how thisreflects on investment into the tourism sector.

According to Colliers International MENA HOTEL 3 Month Rolling Forecast Mar – May 2015, Riydah Occupancy Rate reached 64%, ADR registered $268, and RevPAR reached $172. YoY RevPAR Variance was up by 3%.

AHIC Regional Briefings this year visited Oman, Jeddah and Cairo, Qatar and Riyadh, ahead of the main Conference in Dubai. AHIC 2015 Conference will take place this year from 5-7 May 2015 at Madinat Jumeirah in Dubai.

Tatiana Rokou

Tatiana is the news coordinator for TravelDailyNews Media Network (traveldailynews.gr, traveldailynews.com and traveldailynews.asia). Her role includes monitoring the hundreds of news sources of TravelDailyNews Media Network and skimming the most important according to our strategy.

She holds a Bachelor's degree in Communication & Mass Media from Panteion University of Political & Social Studies of Athens and she has been editor and editor-in-chief in various economic magazines and newspapers.

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