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VisitBritain and Saudi Tourism Authority forge partnership to boost tourism

May 15, 2024 | Press Release

VisitBritain and the Saudi Tourism Authority signed a Declaration of Intent to collaborate on tourism development between the two nations. This agreement was formalized at the GREAT FUTURES trade expo in Riyadh, an event sponsored by the UK Government’s GREAT campaign in partnership with the Government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The declaration was signed by Patricia Yates, CEO of VisitBritain, and Fahd Hamidaddin, CEO of the Saudi Tourism Authority. The partnership will focus on the exchange of knowledge and expertise in both domestic and international tourism.

VisitBritain and Saudi Tourism Authority Forge Partnership to Boost Tourism

Lucy Frazer, Culture Secretary, UK said, “Our tourism industry is an integral part of what makes Britain so great, from our breathtaking landscapes and coastlines, to the treasure trove of heritage and culture to be found in our towns, villages and cities – all backed by a brilliant, dedicated workforce. We’re committed to helping the sector keep growing from strength to strength and I’m delighted that VisitBritain has signed this agreement so we can share the UK’s invaluable expertise on tourism and gain key insights from our Saudi partners.”

H.E. Ahmed Al-Khateeb, Minister of Tourism of Saudi Arabia and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Saudi Tourism Authority said, “This agreement offers enormous opportunities for Saudi Arabia and UK to boost tourism and underlines the close relationship between the two countries. We are proud to have hosted more than 165,000 friends from Britain between January and March this year and to have welcomed 100 million visitors in 2023. We are developing remarkable projects that celebrate our unique culture and heritage as part of our $800 billion (£640 billion) investment in the Saudi tourism industry, aiming for them to become as iconic as UK attractions like the Tower of London and Stonehenge, and we see limitless potential ahead to welcome visitors from Britain and around the world.”

Patricia Yates, CEO, VisitBritain said, “Visiting the UK is easier than ever for Saudi nationals with the roll-out of the Electronic Travel Authorisation Scheme and we are delighted to sign this Declaration with the Saudi Tourism Authority, collaborating to drive growth from tourism between our countries. Working with the Saudi Tourism Authority also builds on our wider engagement in Saudi Arabia, from our ongoing work with the travel trade to sell British destinations to our GREAT Britain marketing campaigns to inspire more Saudis to choose Britain for their next visit. We look forward to working with the Saudi Tourism Authority to boost our competitive tourism offer, bringing the best of Britain to Saudi visitors and harnessing the timely and valuable opportunities for growth.”

The Declaration of Intent signing was a key feature of VisitBritain’s comprehensive GREAT FUTURES program, which also included a Destination Showcase networking event. This event connected trade representatives from Saudi Arabia with British destinations, highlighting the newest tourism products and experiences. It aimed to expand travel itineraries, encouraging Saudi visitors to explore more of Britain’s diverse regions.

In addition, VisitBritain hosted and participated in panel and roundtable discussions during GREAT FUTURES, exchanging insights and strategies on topics such as global promotion of countries and the development of destinations to distribute tourism growth evenly.

To entice more Saudi visitors to travel to Britain, VisitBritain recently launched a new phase of its GREAT Britain marketing campaign in Saudi Arabia. This campaign, titled ‘Spilling the Tea on GREAT Britain,’ highlights the unique experiences available across Britain’s countryside, coasts, and vibrant cities. It features a new Arabic website designed to inspire Saudi visitors to plan their 2024 travels to Britain and introduces them to the UK’s Electronic Travel Authorisation Scheme for Saudi nationals.

VisitBritain is also collaborating with local partners, including the online travel marketplace Wego, to convert interest in visiting Britain into actual bookings.

Saudi Arabia remains a crucial market for UK tourism. VisitBritain predicts a 9% increase in visits from Saudi Arabia this year compared to 2019, expecting around 240,000 visits. Additionally, it is projected that Saudi visitors will spend £752 million during their trips to the UK this year, marking a 20% increase from 2019.