Published on : Friday, February 19, 2021
The global travel industry is undergoing its most profound transformation.
As the landscape evolves, it is more important than ever to continue to inspire, engage and educate travel trade for when the world safely re-opens and travel resumes.
Saudi Arabia is a relatively new destination on the global stage. As the authentic home of Arabia, Saudi offers unique, diverse and unparalleled experiences, a land of natural assets, rich culture and heritage and adventure.
To bring to light the Saudi offering, the Saudi Tourism Authority (STA) has launched ‘Journeys in Arabia’, an exclusive online event curated especially for Travel Trade Partners around the globe.
The virtual engagement series, taking place across six markets around the world, is a first-of-its-kind initiative for STA, a source of inspiration and excitement, designed to inform partners about the diverse products and experiences that Arabia offers.
The India ‘Journeys in Arabia’ webinar brought together local travel trade partners, for an opportunity to hear from thought leaders and experts in the tourism industry. The line up of speakers were:
• Welcome address by Fahd Hamidaddin, CEO, Saudi Tourism Authority
• Keynote conversation ‘Journeys Make People’ between Abdullah Al Dakhil, International Communication Manager, Saudi Tourism Authority and celebrated Indian Journalist Vir Sanghvi.
• Expert panel discussion with:
o Haitham Mattar, CCO, Saudi Tourism Authority
o Benazir Nazar, CEO, Akbar Travels
o Deep Kalra, Founder & Group Executive Chairman, Make My Trip
o Madhavan Menon, Chairman & Managing Director, Thomas Cook Group
o Rakshit Desai, Managing Director – India, FCM
o Sheema Vohra, Managing Director, Sartha Global Marketing
The session provided insights into the current state of travel, and the opportunities and challenges in addressing the growing demand and interest in Saudi as a new destination. Some of the key highlights and market insights of the discussion were:
– India has been identified as one of the key source markets, and STA’s tourism strategy focuses on promoting experiences related to culture, heritage, nature and adventure in Saudi
– Indians, especially the online consumers and millennials, are late planners and constantly seek new destinations, within close proximity to India for last-minute holiday planning. Shorter-duration packages, direct flights and ease in visa (preferably e-visas) procurement will be game-changers for a new destination like Saudi
– Saudi offers exceptional experiences for diving, adventure sports, and sustainable tourism. The country will also host the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix in 2021. These developments reflect the new travel motivations that Indian leisure travellers actively seek today
– Two key considerations among the Corporate/Leisure market are awareness and attractiveness. While the former can be achieved through communication and information dissemination, via visual and video content on Saudi; attractiveness will come from exquisite on-ground experiences that visitors have while at the destination
– The high-end Umrah market from India is a major captive audience, combining pilgrimage with leisure through post-Umrah leisure packages
– Promoting unique destinations like AlUla for wedding tourism will be a huge draw for Saudi
– Lastly, consumer behavior has seen a drastic shift in a post-Covid world with both MICE and Leisure travel experiencing a heightened ecological sensitivity. Travelers are seeking clear information and assurance related to hygiene and safety.
Following up on the success of the ‘Journeys in Arabia’ webinar, STA will also be hosting an immersive virtual roadshow for India on March 2 – 3, 2021, partnering with the most relevant destination, experience and hospitality brands in Saudi to showcase the best of what the Kingdom has to offer.
As part of the ‘Journeys in Arabia’ webinar series, the next webinar takes place for Germany, followed by UK and Russia.