Is Saudi Arabia pioneering the way to Tourism of the Future?

Travel has been brought to a screeching halt by Covid-19 but people will not stop traveling in the future. In fact, predictions suggest that luxury tourism will be a $ 1.1 trillion market by 2022. People, however, will desire to travel more responsibly.

With more than 25% of the world´s known oil reserves, Saudi Arabia is a wealthy country but last September, Saudi Arabia’s General Investment Authority (SAGIA) and the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage announced a US$27 billion plan to transform tourism. Saudi Arabia’s Authorities and the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage seek to build destinations with local and international investors, keen to attract holidaymakers and generate the spending that could diversify the kingdom’s economy – away from its reliance on oil.

Saudi Arabia expects to increase international and domestic visits to 100 million a year by 2030, attracting significant investment, creating a million jobs and contributing up to 10% towards the country´s GDP.

According to Ibrahim Al-Omar, Governor of SAGIA the market fundamentals are in place for a vibrant tourism industry, and the private sector will play a crucial role in unlocking this potential.

The Red Sea Development Company has rolled out an approach which applies the principles of sustainable tourism: Creating a destination that matches the expectations of modern luxury travelers while minimizing any environmental footprint by protecting, preserving & enhancing the natural environment. It will take longer to create a luxury experience and require the cooperation of architects, construction engineers, scientists & environmentalists. The reward, however, will be great.

Golf is one of the major pillars of Saudi Arabia´s transformation as the leadership understands the economic and social impact of this vertical. Led by Emaar, the same developers behind Dubai, the game is set to take off in a big way in the coming years. Royal Greens Golf Course, designed by Dave Sampson of European Golf Design and located in King Abdullah Economic City, hosted its inaugural professional golf tournament in 2019 (European Tour Event) and has become a leading fixture on the European Tour schedule – an opportunity to showcase itself as a business, tourist, and leisure destination.

According to Majed Al-Sorour, CEO of the Saudi Golf Federation, an environmental and ecological strategy has been the key driver of golf development as well and a variety of pioneering initiatives have been implemented already in alignment with The Golf Environment Organization and STRI to achieve sustainability goals for low carbon, resource efficient and ecologically rich golf courses. The aim is to create the most robust and progressive environmental and soil science strategy in world golf – as part of Saudi Arabia´s overarching mission to become the Pioneer of the Tourism Destination of the Future.

Whether the social transformation of the Kingdom can unfold as quickly without any major challenges is another story though.

TOPICS: Golf Tourism Development Tags: , ,

ABOUT: Evelyn Gruber

Evelyn has passionately dedicated her life to serve the global golf tourism industry. She has accumulated a wealth of knowledge and built an amazing global network within this vertical in the past 26 years. The Austrian native founded her first golf travel business in the mid 90's. By implementing an innovative shop-in-shop concept with Europe´s leading golf store, Evelyn was able to grow her business into Austria´s largest golf tour operator before selling it in 2008. Since then, this passionate visionary has continued to work in golf tourism, albeit more on the consulting and coaching side to assist public and private tourism sectors succeed in the lucrative golf niche. This niche is the most profitable one as golfers spend 2.5. times as much as leisure tourists. In addition, it trumps with strong ancillary benefits and has proven to be the most resilient and sustainable vertical in crisis. On top of everything else, numbers of golfers - including youth golf - have been increasing significantly during the current pandemic. As a truly global citizen, Evelyn calls Europe, the US and Asia her home, as she has been commuting between these three continents for the past 15 years. This has helped her tremendously to develop a unique global understanding of the geopolitical business dynamics as well as the macro and micro-environment in the various markets, which she applies effectively when boosting international tourist arrivals & tourism spending for destinations. The Austrian is most likely one of the best traveled living golfers in Europe, having played more than 2000 courses in 89 countries in Europe, Australia, North America, Africa and Asia, including most of Golf Digest´s Top 100 Ballot Courses outside the US and Rolex 1000 Ballot Courses worldwide. Considered a leading expert in her field, Evelyn has also stayed in 1000s of hotels, and worked successfully with both private & public sector in global golf tourism. She understands the USP and value propositions of destinations and knows how to smartly communicate those to the most valuable target audiences in select key markets. Evelyn has a Masters degree in Sports Management, English & Business Administration and holds two diplomas for International Marketing from Harvard Business School. She still dedicates 3 hours a day to grow her skill-set and raise her standards. A strong background combined with expertise & connectivity is fundamental for success. It is, however, Evelyn´s dedication & passion that make her approach unrivaled. You will quickly notice that Golf Tourism is in her blood!

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