World Travel Market will welcome representation from Saudi Arabia on to the exhibition floor for the first time this year, as the Saudi government unveils plans to invest heavily into its tourism industry over the next decade.

Representation from The Saudi Commission for Tourism & Antiquities (SCTA), along with the country’s national airline Saudi Airlines and flynas, the leading low-cost Saudi airline offering cheap flights to the Middle East, Europe and Asia, will all be exhibiting from November 3-6.

Last year WTM facilitated business deals worth more than £2.2billion – with Middle Eastern exhibitors benefiting from £144million of business. This was generated through contracts signed with WTM Buyers’ Club members at the event or from further negotiations.

The plan for the Saudi government to invest more than £18billion in tourism from 2013 to 2023 was reported last year in a MENA tourism and hospitality report by research consultancy Aranca. Their main objectives are to provide employment opportunities for the many Saudi graduates and cope with the increasing number of visitors, which is estimated to increase at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 2% to 21.3 million over the next decade.

The SCTA recently announced its £1.85million plan to set-up tourist information centres across the country that provide information on domestic events.

Hamad A Alsheikh, VP for marketing and programmes at the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA) said: “Saudi aims to highlight the historic potentials of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as a crossroad of civilizations through displaying part of its history, heritage, achievements and tourism potentials by way of print material and direct communication.

“We plan to highlight and introduce the existing tourism investments in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in different fields, especially in the convention and exhibition sector and accommodation sector, in addition to other tourism and investment areas.”

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