The Saudi Tourism Authority (STA) has opened a commercial office in Dubai as part of its strategy to engage the tourism trade in key source markets and raise awareness of the kingdom following the reopening of the country to international visitors.
STA now has representative offices in 12 markets serving more than 20 countries, with the eventual goal of having 15 offices around the world to expand the reach of its activities.
CEO Fahd Hamidaddin said: “STA is focused on enhancing its ability to deliver a global scale offering by investing resources today in the network that will drive our business for the future.
“We are building an integrated team of professionals to showcase Saudi’s offering of cultural adventures, heritage sites and Arabian hospitality.”
The Dubai office will be responsible for trade and consumer marketing activities, expanding the reach and relevance of Saudi’s tourism offer and working with tour operators, travel agents and other industry stakeholders.
The Middle East representative office is being set up with the support of TCA (Travel Connections Arabia DMCC), a leading sales and marketing outsourcing agency for the luxury hospitality, tourism and travel industry in the Middle East.
STA International Markets Director Middle East and Africa Ahmed Elbahr said: “We have already begun outreach into the regional tourism trade ecosystem and the response has been positive.
“Through our network of offices and associates, we are seeking opportunities to co-invest with partners who are keen to add Saudi as a new destination in their portfolio.”
Since opening its borders to international tourism in September 2019, Saudi established itself as the fastest growing tourism destination in the world, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council.
Despite the global shutdown of leisure tourism in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, STA continued to invest to prepare the destination for a return to normalcy.
In 2020 STA delivered a domestic tourism campaign that saw visitor spend across target destinations between July and September increase by more than 30 per cent compared to the equivalent period the year before.
An international brand awareness campaign launched at the beginning of 2021 extends across 26 countries and 13 languages, with significant investment in outdoor, broadcast and digital advertising.
Hamidaddin added: “Saudi has a wealth of sites for travelers to experience when borders reopen and we are ready to welcome visitors from around the world.
“By investing now in brand awareness and in our network of international offices, we are seeking to expand the global reach and relevance of these sites and integrating new ways of thinking and delivering on our mandate.”
To support the international and domestic tourism trade ecosystem, STA is introducing Saudi Expert, a digital platform that provides partner companies with data, insights, destination information and creative assets in real time.
The new platform is intended to ensure that DMCs, tour operators and other stakeholders have on-demand access to the information they need to build their business.