The Saudi Tourism Authority (STA) has opened a commercial office for the UK and Ireland as part of its strategy to engage the tourism trade in key source markets and raise awareness of Saudi, the authentic home of Arabia, as travellers around the world dream of exploring exotic destinations once more.
The move is part of a plan to have representative offices in 15 markets around the world including China, India and the GCC among others, to expand the reach of the authority’s activities.
“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,” said 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.”
The UK and Ireland office will be responsible for trade 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.
The UK and Ireland representative office is being set up with the support of MMGY Hills Balfour, Europe’s leading travel, tourism and lifestyle communications partner.
“We have already begun outreach into the UK and Ireland tourism trade ecosystem and the response has been very positive,” said Nimit Amin, director UK and Ireland, 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.”
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. Despite the global shutdown of leisure tourism in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, STA has 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%, 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,” said Fahd Hamidaddin. “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.”
To support the international and domestic tourism trade ecosystem, STA is building a comprehensive digital infrastructure that will provide partner companies with data, insights, destination information and creative assets in real time.
The digital platforms, which will roll out in stages through 2021, are intended to ensure that DMCs, tour operators and other stakeholders have on-demand access to the information they need to build their business.