The India presence is part of its global strategy to engage the tourism trade in key source markets and to create a comprehensive digital infrastructure to inform and empower partners.
The Saudi Tourism Authority (STA) has opened a commercial office in India. This is part of its global strategy to engage tourism trade in key source markets and raise awareness about the travel potential of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which reopened to vaccinated international visitors at the beginning of August. The India office will be responsible for trade and consumer marketing activities, expanding the reach and relevance of Saudi’s tourism offer and working with tour operators, travel agents and other industry stakeholders to build awareness and drive conversion in line with STA’s strategy and mission.
“We have already begun outreach into the India tourism trade ecosystem and the response has been very positive,” observes Augustus Simon, Director – Indian Subcontinent, Saudi Tourism Authority. “We are actively seeking opportunities to co-invest with partners who are keen to add Saudi as an exciting new destination in their portfolio.”
The India representative office is being set up with the support of Think Strawberries, a leading destination consulting and representation company that provides strategic direction to global tourism brands and destinations.
“STA is focused on enhancing its ability to deliver a truly global scale offering by investing resources today in the network that will drive our business for the future,” says Fahd Hamidaddin, CEO of the Saudi Tourism Authority. “We are building an integrated global team of professionals to showcase Saudi’s diverse offering of cultural adventures, world-class heritage sites and authentic Arabian hospitality.”
Since opening its borders to international tourism in September 2019, Saudi rapidly established itself as the fastest growing tourism destination in the world, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC). Despite the global shutdown of leisure tourism in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, STA continued to invest to prepare the destination for a return to normalcy. In 2020, STA delivered a domestic tourism campaign that saw visitor spend across target destinations between July and September increase by more than 30 per cent compared to the equivalent period the year before. An international brand awareness campaign launched at the beginning of 2021 extends across 26 countries and 13 languages, with significant investment in outdoor, broadcast and digital advertising.
“Saudi has a wealth of iconic sites for travellers to experience when borders reopen and we are ready to welcome visitors from around the world,” says Hamidaddin, adding, “By investing now in brand awareness and in our network of international offices, we are seeking to expand the global reach and relevance of these sites and integrating new ways of thinking and delivering on our mandate.”
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is the largest country in the Middle East, divided into 13 Provinces, each characterised by their own unique traditions and cultures. Islam is the state religion in Saudi and the country is home to the two holiest cities in Islam, Makkah and Medina. Saudi Arabia’s rich heritage and traditions have been shaped by its position as a historic trade hub and the birthplace of Islam. In recent years, the Kingdom has undergone a significant cultural transformation, adapting centuries-old customs to fit the contemporary world.
To support the international and domestic tourism trade ecosystem, STA is introducing Saudi Expert, a comprehensive digital platform that provides partner companies with data, insights, destination information and creative assets in real time.
The new platform is intended to ensure that DMCs, tour operators and other stakeholders have on-demand access to the information they need to build their business. “Tourism businesses need to be more agile than ever to respond to sudden changes in the environment. Agility depends on a constant supply of up-to-date information, and our goal is to get that information to our partners almost as soon as we get it ourselves. We are working at pace to help our partners introduce the authentic home of Arabia to more people than ever before,” says Hamidaddin.