Domestic tourism in Saudi Arabia proved resilient during the 2020 pandemic, with many Saudis taking holidays within the Kingdom, according to local tourism officials, which suggests strong local demand for MSC Cruises upcoming season in Jeddah.
Saudi Arabia launched a domestic tourism campaign during 2020, which resulted in a 33% increase in spending, and hotel occupancy at 50%, even though the Kingdom was closed to international tourists.
“While the travel and tourism sector was paralysed globally, Saudi Arabia kept moving. Although the priority was to save lives, we were also committed to protecting livelihoods and saving jobs through our successful domestic tourism campaign,” said Fahd Hamidaddin, CEO of Saudi Tourism Authority.
He was speaking at the recent Arabian Travel Market 2021 in Dubai, where delegates heard how Saudi Arabia is preparing to reopen its borders for foreign tourists imminently, and it is well on its way to realising its ambition for attracting 100 million tourists per year by 2030.
The strength of the domestic tourism market is underscored by results from SAUDIA, which operated its 28 domestic airports at close to 80% of its 2019 levels in 2020 and the first quarter of 2021.
The numbers are expected to pick up even further with the recent resumption of international travel for residents and citizens and the operation of the new King Abdulaziz International Airport (KAIA) as a regional hub.
The second session of the ATM Saudi Arabia Tourism Summit on the ATM Global Stage explored the “giga-project effect”, from developments that preserve and promote the Kingdom’s heritage, culture and natural assets to theme parks, futuristic cities in the desert and luxury resorts with a strong focus on sustainability.
Initiatives such as these were behind MSC Cruises’ recently announced decision to homeport in Saudi Arabia for the first time, cruising roundtrip from Jeddah in the Red Sea aboard MSC Magnifica.
The 7-night cruises will visit three ports in Saudi Arabia (Jeddah, Al Wajh and Yanbu), as well as Saga in Egypt and Aqaba (gateway to Petra) in Jordan. The cruises are expected to attract strong local demand, as well as regional and international fly-cruise demand.