Saudi Arabia has big plans for Chinese tourists; it hopes to attract five million travellers by 2030.
At ITB China, which was held from September 12 to 14 at Shanghai World Expo Exhibition & Convention Center, Alhasan Aldabbagh, President Asia-Pacific (APAC) Markets, Saudi Tourism Authority, called China “a key market for Saudi Arabia” and “a priority”.
Aldabbagh, who represented the partner destination for ITB China 2023, explained that this year about 80,000 Chinese travellers had been to Saudi Arabia, and that the country is gearing up to draw many, many more.
In his address, he spoke about the fact that Saudi Arabia has undiscovered, pristine nature. He said: “Geographically, Saudi is the fifth largest country in Asia, and we have diverse topography with beautiful landscapes, from high mountains to beautiful seas.
“Secondly, Saudi Arabia has a very diverse culture and heritage that goes back to thousands of years – we have six Unesco World Heritage Sites and over 10,000 archaeological sites.”
But more than anything, he added, it is Arabian hospitality that would woo the market. “It’s something I’m very eager for everyone to experience when they visit Saudi,” he added.
The country, said Aldabbagh, has been investing heavily in a number of spheres to make Saudi Arabia ready for the Chinese market. “We’ve done this across every step of the travel journey. So, China is one of the 57 countries that are eligible for the e-visa and you can get it within minutes and you can also get it upon arrival.
“There are four direct flights between China and Saudi Arabia, connecting the cities Quanzhou, Beijing to Riyadh and Jeddah, but we are also planning to launch more direct flights,” he said. The main Saudi tourism website is now available in Mandarin as well. “We also have a dedicated customer hotline. And we are working very closely with hotels in Saudi to ensure all the hospitality services are available in Mandarin. If you arrive at the airport in Riyadh, you’ll find signage in Mandarin.”
He concluded: “We are here today to send one simple loud message; all Chinese people are welcome in Saudi Arabia.”
On the occasion, David Axiotis, General Manager of Messe Berlin (Shanghai), said Saudi Arabia was the esteemed partner destination for ITB China 2023. “This partnership signified a pivotal bridge between the Middle East and China, with the Middle East assuming a vital role as a travel destination for Chinese travellers. This collaboration promised to unlock new horizons for both regions, fostering cultural exchange, economic growth, and enriching travel experiences. With the Middle East emerging as a compelling destination for Chinese travellers, the future holds a boundless potential for mutually beneficial tourism endeavours. This dynamic synergy reflects the shared commitment to global connectivity and paves the way for exciting journeys ahead.”