Sunday 21 April 2024

Saudi Arabia joins ITB Berlin with biggest team, huge showcase

BERLIN, March 4, 2024

Saudi Arabia is sending its largest delegation to ITB Berlin this week to showcase its world-class destination offerings to the European market, strengthen trade partnerships, and celebrate the remarkable growth of its tourism sector.
Returning to the world's biggest travel show for the second time, the Saudi delegation of more than 55 representatives will be led by Ahmed Al-Khateeb, Minister of Tourism and Chairman of Saudi Tourism Authority (STA), accompanied by leaders from STA, wider Saudi tourism ecosystem leaders and key partners including destination management companies, hotels, and airlines.
Saudi Arabia aims to showcase its position as a dynamic, year-round global tourism destination through an immersive stand experience.  Building on its success as ‘best exhibitor’ out of 5,500 exhibitors at last year’s show, the Saudi stand will feature a full-size F1 car and virtual driving simulation of the Jeddah-Grand Prix circuit and a Saudi Pro League Museum featuring exclusive signed football memorabilia. 
There will also be live performances of traditional Saudi dances, a Saudi Café, and a date museum in coordination with the National Center for Palms and Dates where visitors can try a selection of Saudi dates and coffee pairings. 
Key Saudi tourism partners will also be on the stand showcasing hundreds of bookable products for destinations such as Jeddah, AlUla, and the Red Sea spanning experiences, packages, hotels, and cruises for trade partners. The diversity of Saudi will be showcased with an interactive Saudi map and activities calendar, while the immersive Arabian Gateway B2B activation will offer informative toolkits with ready-to-use itineraries and Saudi travel experiences. 
In Berlin, Al-Khateeb will also be hosting a celebratory event with international dignitaries and tourism leaders to mark Saudi Arabia’s recent tourism successes including successfully exceeding 100 million tourists, seven years ahead of scheduled with a 56% growth in international arrivals in 2023 compared to 2019. 
Saudi Arabia’s presence at ITB is a testament to the country’s commitment to European partners and the importance of the European market in driving its tourism sector. Saudi Arabia saw more than 950,000 tourists from European markets in 2023 - a 65% increase compared to 2022. Tourists from Germany saw a 61% increase in 2023 compared to 2022. 
Saudi Arabia is also currently connected to 36 European cities, with over 10 new routes expected to launch in 2024 along with new market entrants ITA Airways and LOT Polish – showing huge confidence in the market.
During the three-day event, which starts on Tuesday (March 5), and following on from signing 10 new partnerships and collaborations with private sector partners at last year’s ITB, STA will seek to establish new agreements to boost growth and further catalyze the sector towards the new ambition of reaching 150m annual tourists by 2030. 
In the final quarter of last year around  55,000 tourists from Europe were generated via partnerships and  STA’s current strategic partnerships are expected to deliver more than 197,000 tourists from Europe in 2024 - contributing SAR1.4 billion in visitor spend. 
Another key objective in Berlin will be to build knowledge about Saudi as a destination and increase consideration by addressing consumer and trade barriers that exist in the European market. 
As part of these efforts, STA recently launched a new global campaign, titled ‘Go Beyond What You Think’, featuring tourism ambassador Lionel Messi inviting travelers to #ShareYourSaudi, and discover the unexpected in Saudi. The campaign is running in international markets, including Europe, and builds on the UN tourism initiative “Tourism Opens Minds,” which launched in Riyadh on World Tourism Day last year. 
With an unwavering commitment to building successful collaborations with trade partners, Saudi Arabia is investing over $800 billion in its tourism industry, with over $500 billion dedicated to the development of new destinations. This has opened more than $6 trillion worth of investment opportunities in Saudi until 2030.  
At last year’s ITB it was announced that Six Senses Southern Dunes and St Regis, two new Red Sea resorts would be open in Q1 2024. Both are now open and operational ahead of schedule, with the Red Sea Global expecting to welcome 350,000 visitors per year upon completion. 
Over the past 12 months, NEOM has also announced several new destinations including arts and entertainment destination Utamo and most recently Elanan -  an exclusive wellness retreat on the Gulf of Aqaba coastline. 
Added to this, Diriyah has further announced its master plans to invest $10 billion in renovations, with plans in progress for King Salman Boulevard and the Royal Diriyah Opera House, demonstrating Saudi’s commitment to delivering on building the world’s most dynamic destination. 
Saudi Arabia has continuously proven its readiness to host international events and is emerging as a global hub for innovation, sports, and culture. It is home to a bustling Winter Season and this year will be hosting over 17,000 events, making it the world's most happening winter. Leading events such as the F1 Grand Prix in Jeddah, Red Sea Film Festival, MDLBEAST Festival, and Riyadh Season, which saw over 12m visitors in 2022.  - TradeArabia News Service


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