The Saudi pavilion at Arabian Travel Market (ATM) 2021 was buzzing with business deals and development announcements, evidence of the strength and confidence in Saudi’s growing tourism industry as the sector makes efforts to rebuild and recover globally.
“Saudi is driving a new model of tourism for the twenty-first century,” said Fahd Hamidaddin, CEO of the Saudi Tourism Authority.
“This year’s ATM demonstrated the recognition by major global travel industry players of the tremendous opportunities our dynamic and growing tourism industry offers.” He added.
More than 20 Saudi partners converged at the Saudi exhibitor stand, which witnessed over 890 meetings and a flurry of deals between the country’s leading travel companies and international tourism partners, showcasing the fast-expanding offering of one of the world’s newest leisure travel destinations.
Announcements made on the Saudi pavilion at this year’s ATM included:
Saudi Tourism Authority (STA) and India’s leading online travel agency Travel Boutique Online (TBO) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to develop destination knowledge of Saudi through new, innovative programs on the TBO Academy platform, reaching 90,000 agents globally and targeting 25,000 visitors by 2022; STA and Hotelbeds, the world’s leading bed bank, signed a joint marketing agreement to drive awareness of Saudi as a unique, exciting destination amongst the Hotelbeds B2B network, comprising more than 180,000 travel agents; A strategic partnership between regional travel services company Seera Group and online booking platform Klook, in the creation of a one-stop digital booking platform for Saudi tourism providers;
IHG® Hotels & Resorts’ signing of a Master Development Agreement (MDA) with RIVA Development Company to open at least seven hotels in Saudi across IHG’s portfolio of brands; SAUDIA, Saudi’s national flag carrier, and Etihad Airways, the national airline of the UAE, launch a new reciprocal loyalty agreement, allowing loyalty program members to earn and redeem miles on flights across both networks; Ajlan & Bros Holding and Desert Adventures Tourism announced partnership to establish a full service DMC in Saudi Arabia; Packages by GCC travel agency Aviareps for AlUla, one of Saudi’s premier nature, culture and heritage destinations; Several expansion projects by hotel operator and developer Dur Hospitality, including the Crowne Plaza Riyadh Palace Hotel and the Riyadh Airport Marriott Hotel; and the launch of GoZahid Destination Management, the dedicated DMC brand of Zahid Travel, one of Saudi’s first travel agencies.
“Partnerships with the world’s major tourism players are transforming Saudi’s great ambition as a leisure tourism destination into reality, so we were thrilled to see so much positive movement at ATM. We thank ATM’s organizers for the opportunity to showcase Saudi’s iconic places, profound experiences and unparalleled hospitality to the region and the world,” said Fahd Hamidaddin.
The activity at the show mirrored the impressive growth of Saudi’s tourism ecosystem. The number of local destination management companies (DMCs) expanded from 17 in the summer of 2019 to 72 today. MSC Cruises will launch two Red Sea itineraries in the fall with Saudi home ports, and major hotel brands including Marriott Worldwide, Hilton International, and Accor Group will join IHG in expanding their footprint in Saudi.