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Saudi Arabia launches $4bn fund to develop tourism industry

A new fund has been established to boost Saudi Arabia’s tourism sector…

Saudi Arabia is moving forward with plans to strengthen the kingdom’s tourism industry, injecting SAR15 billion into a new Tourism Development Fund. The fund will contribute to the development of new tourism projects in the kingdom, by attracting local and international investments.

According to Minister of Tourism Ahmed Al-Khateeb, the fund will “play a critical role in developing outstanding tourism experiences and unlocking the full potential of Saudi Arabia as a destination.”

Tourism will be a vital player in Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 economic plan, which seeks to diversify the kingdom’s gross domestic product and reduce its reliance on oil.

Saudi Arabia first opened to international tourists in September last year, launching an online service for tourist visas. And while travel plans have been halted due to the Covid-19 pandemic, it is hoped that tourism will contribute more than 10 per cent of the kingdom’s GDP by 2030, up from three per cent currently. It is expected that such an increase would result in more than one million jobs.

The new Tourism Development Fund, chaired by Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, is part of Saudi Arabia’s broader National Tourism Strategy, which plans to develop 38 sites across seven key destinations by 2022.

“The launch of the fund at this time, as the tourism sector faces unprecedented global challenges, is testament to investor and private sector confidence in the long-term outlook for tourism in Saudi Arabia,” Mr Al-Khateeb said.

“The social and economic importance of the sector cannot be understated: it drives growth and diversification, attracts international investment, creates job opportunities and enhances quality of life for millions of Saudis.”

Domestic flights in Saudi Arabia resumed on May 31, and it is hoped that domestic tourism may be allowed from October onwards. Currently, all tourist visas for Saudi Arabia have been suspended.

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