The Royal Commission for AlUla (RCU) is participating at the Arabian Travel Market (ATM) 2021 Hybrid, which is happening physically in Dubai from May 16 to 19 and virtually from May 24 to 26.
The ATM 2021 is the first major live event for the travel and tourism industry happening in the GCC since the beginning of the pandemic.
At the event, RCU will showcase new accommodation coming in 2021 such as Habitas AlUla and Ashar Resort which will become a Banyan Tree to open later in the year. RCU will be focused on industry buyers to establish new connections from the region and to reaffirm existing partnerships with the airlines and travel trade.
Situated in the north-west of the Arabian Peninsula, AlUla has welcomed more than 30,000 visitors only at the UNESCO world heritage site, Hegra, since the re-opening as a year-round destination in October 2020, while taking all the precautionary measures and the Covid health and safety protocols such as social distancing and limiting the number of visitors at each tour.
As well as the huge number of visitors to Hegra, ticket sales were strong across AlUla’s other heritage sites as well as nature experiences such as the popular Elephant Rock. In adventure, the Zipline was booked solid and the new Adventure Trail and Cycling Trail proved very popular.
The period of March drew the most visitation with some 17 bookable experiences available. Nine restaurants were also opened during the winter months including those that will remain open along the successfully re-energised Incense Road in AlUla Old Town.
Further developments over the period included the soft launch of domestic flights into AlUla from flynas, and the categorisation of AlUla International Airport.
International events Extreme E, the radical new electric car motorsports championship and maestro Andrea Bocelli live at Hegra were aimed at keeping AlUla front and centre among potential international visitors while continuing to communicate the destination’s future-focused intentions.
Melanie de Souza, Executive Director of Destination Marketing, The Royal Commission for AlUla is pleased that the experiences hit the mark with visitors saying she believes the numbers were fitting for the moment in time.
“In the year that we’ve had, our key concern is with the safety of our visitors and to that end all experiences continue to abide by strict Covid-19 safe measures. It was great to step out in AlUla and see Saudi’s enjoying their heritage as well the new restaurants and boutique shopping. Our adventure experiences are unique to AlUla and designed to blend into the monumental settings and landscapes, so we weren’t surprised to see our newly enhanced double zipline do so well with visitors.”
De Souza said she was also pleased with the response to the wellness experiences.
“The wellness experiences, such as the Sadu Escape, sound therapy, yoga and drumming sessions set within the silent and awe-inspiring canyons, or to the backdrop of Elephant Rock, were also popular and have provided us with some insights in further exploring this sector, so watch this space.”
RCU also launched its first domestic campaign, The World’s Masterpiece, in January 2021 which achieved 8.4 million views on YouTube alone. De Souza says the campaign will be revived in the coming months to communicate AlUla’s year-round offer and summer experiences.
“Our home market of Saudi Arabia and the wider GCC region remains our top priority. The vast majority of visitors will be from these markets in the short to medium term so it’s important we continue to build our tourism eco-system here."
“We are working on some new creative and our teams are working with our trade partners to develop specific summer packages and ensure that those looking to visit over the warmer months are provided with easy to book itineraries that highlight the best of AlUla such as stargazing and other night time experiences,” said de Souza.
Last month (April 2021), His Royal Highness the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Chairman of the Royal Commission for AlUla, launched The Journey Through Time Masterplan for AlUla (JTT MP1), designed to immerse visitors in 200,000 years of natural and human history.
This visionary masterplan sets out a 15-year programme to responsibly and sustainably develop the core historical area of AlUla. It contributes to the advancement of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030, opening a new chapter in the development of AlUla as a Living Museum while accelerating the growth of a diversified economy and vibrant community. JTT MP1 will transform AlUla into a global destination for heritage, arts, culture and nature.
De Souza says there is a lot to look forward to in 2021.
“As well as the new accommodation and new experiences – in due course we will be excited to share details of the events calendar which will pick up where we left off from two successful Winter at Tantora festivals,” said de Souza. - TradeArabia News Service