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 On cultural tourism in the Kingdom, 6 million tourists have spent SR13 billion in 2016
 ( Published On Wednesday 27 December 2017, 9 Rabi II 1439, Time: 9:7)

On cultural tourism in the Kingdom, 6 million tourists have spent SR13 billion in 2016

On cultural tourism in the Kingdom, 6 million tourists have spent SR13 billion in 2016

·          Total impact on cultural tourism “direct and indirect” in the Kingdom exceeds SR 56.6 billion

·          Over 230 new heritage projects and 6 million tourism trips will contribute to the support and expansion of cultural tourism.

·          Developing a number of cultural and heritage tourism products in 25 tourism destinations.

 

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia participated in the 2nd International Conference of Cultural Tourism in Omani capital, Muscat, on 11-12 December 2017.

 

This participation falls in line with the Kingdom’s increased attention towards cultural and heritage tourism with the implementation of a set of heritage projects and event products related to cultural tourism.

 

Kingdom is witnessing a quantum leap in the field of cultural heritage led by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman bin Abdul Aziz (may Allah protect him), the man of history and pioneer of heritage and the first supporter of the projects and programs of preservation of the Kingdom’s heritage in its diverse areas.  

 

The cultural and heritage tourism is one of the main elements and key patterns of tourism industry as it depends on cultural heritage.  It includes visiting cultural heritage sites, cultural monuments, especially the historic landmarks in cities and villages, in addition to cultural facilities such as museums, theaters, exhibitions, popular souks, and the like.

 

Cultural tourism in the Kingdom:

 

Kingdom of Saudi Arabia enjoys a large number of potentials that distinguishes it for such a type of tourism. Prominent among them are, the Kingdom’s location, and its land that was, and still a meeting point for human civilizations in light of its strategic location in the middle of the continents, besides its important archeological sites that are spread throughout its different parts, in addition to the Islamic history sites and the huge and diverse cultural and urban heritage sites over a large geographic area.

 

The Kingdom has over 150 archeological sites that are well-prepared for visiting and open for the public as well as 22 public museums, 174 private museums and 50 urban heritage sites.

 

According to recent study by SCTH, the number of domestic cultural tourism trips in the Kingdom has exceeded 6 million in 2016 including visits to museums, Islamic history sites, archeological sites, cultural and art exhibitions, and cultural festivals.

 

The study estimated the direct spending of national and international visitors of about SR 13.5 billion while the total impact of spending on cultural heritage (total of direct and indirect spending), is about SR 56.6 billion. The number of created jobs due to visitors’ activities in cultural and heritage sites and from surrounding trade activities is 112,000 direct jobs.

 

According to the study, the purposes of cultural tourism varied with the interest of the visitors.  For attending cultural festivals and events, it got 39.7% of total of cultural trips, at a time in which the heritage sites have seen heavy turnout by tourists and their visits on cultural trips clocked 20%.

 

Museums and exhibitions visits reached 8.1% of the total number of visitors, while 5.1 million domestic tourists have visited the cultural sites such as museums, heritage sites and cultural and tourism events. New museums and development of museum display techniques which have been carried by SCTH, in addition to rehabilitation projects in heritage and archeological sites, have contributed to remarkable turnout towards these sites. 

 

SCTH efforts:

 

SCTH, since its inception has paid great attention to the integration of tourism with the heritage and culture through establishing the “culture and heritage” program in 2002. The program set a plan covering cultural tourism programs and works that are carried out by SCTH currently.

 

The efforts of SCTH in the field of cultural and heritage tourism included a number of areas, the most important of them are:

 

Annual Festivals:

 

SCTH undertakes establishment and support of a number of cultural, heritage and historic festivals, the most important of them are, Souk Okaz, Historic Jeddah Festival, Desert Festival in Hail, Al Ghada Festival in Onaiza, Al Badia Festival in Besha, Falcon Festival in Turaif municipality, in addition to major national heritage festivals, such as Al Jenadriah Festival and King Abdul Aziz Camel Festival.

 

SCTH has also undertaken development of a number of tourism, cultural and heritage products in more than 25 tourism destinations including historical souks, heritage villages, historical routes, popular souks, folklore, traditional industries, and popular foods.

 

The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Cultural Heritage Initiative:

 

The new heritage projects that are under implementation by SCTH under the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Cultural Heritage Initiative are expected to create remarkable increase in the tourism and cultural trips in the Kingdom.

 

This leading program enjoys the support of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques and is funded by the government under the important initiatives of the  “Vision 2030” with more than SR 5 billion in its current phase.

 

The program covers 10 tracks and each track includes a set of major heritage projects, totaling over 230 projects.

 

The projects of the program includes preservation of urban heritage sites, developing heritage villages, establishing and preparing museums across the provinces, developing handicraft and traditional industries, raising people’s awareness on the national heritage, securing required financial support from the government to the projects of the urban heritage and cultural heritage.

 

Program’s most important projects:

 

Rehabilitation of 4 palaces of the historic state in the reign of King Abdul Aziz in the first phase (2020), in addition to 20 palaces in the second phase (2030) as museums across the municipalities.  Establishing, preparing and operating 18 public museums in the first phase, rehabilitating 80 archeological sites in the first phase besides 40 sites in the second phase to be added to already 70 sites opened for the public. Accordingly, the total number of archeological sites ready for visitation is 190.

 

The program aims at increasing the number of registered archeological sites in the UNESCO’s World Heritage List to 7 sites by the end of the first phase and 10 sites by the end of the second phase, as well as rehabilitating 18 heritage villages in the first phase and 22 towns in the second phase, besides preparing and operating 17 handicraft creative centers across different parts of the Kingdom.

 

The program for caring of Islamic history sites is considered as one of tracks of the Custodian program for caring of Kingdom’s cultural heritage. It concerns, preservation, rehabilitation and employment of the Kingdom’s cultural heritage sites.

 

The program covers a number of projects including the project of documentation of the Islamic history sites and the project of rehabilitation of Prophetic Hijrah Route and the project of rehabilitation of the Islamic History related sites, in addition to establishing visitor centers at Grand Badar Battle as “Islamic Battle Museum”, Uhud Battle field, Al Khandag Battle field, Al Hudaibia Historic site, Al Yamama Historic Site  in the heart of the Arabian Peninsula, Jabal Al Nour, Hira Cave and Thur Mountain.   

 

Urban Heritage and Handicraft:

 

In light of the notable increase in the urban heritage efforts in the Kingdom, SCTH has established the National Urban Heritage Center in 2011, which undertakes a number of projects and programs in partnership with many public departments and local communities. The most important of them are, heritage villages and towns projects, historic State palaces, city historic centers, and historic mosques.

 

In this line, SCTH has established the National Program for Handicraft (Bari). The program, within five years, has managed to implement a large number of training programs in an effort to quality the Saudi artisans, and has engaged them in the festivals and exhibitions, in addition to allowing their products to be displayed in the hotels and marketing their products online, besides supporting them financially through micro loans for their projects and encouraging them by various awards.

 

The number of registered artisans in the national record of artisans so far has reached 3202 , male and female, across the Kingdom.

 

In this line, SCTH has established two companies to support the investment activities in different areas of heritage in a way that enhances heritage and cultural tourism. The first one is the Saudi Company for Heritage Hospitality, which is one of heritage tourism investment companies established by SCTH and approved by the government and was launched with a capital of SR 250 million. The first fruit of the projects of this company was Al Samhan Heritage Hotel in Historic Diriyah. The second company is the Saudi Company for Handicraft, which was established under the initiatives of the National Transformation Program and supported by SR 220 million. It aims at preserving and developing the handicraft and national traditional industries.

 

SCTH efforts to link tourism to culture in the GCC and Arab countries:

 

The SCTH and its President have played important role in linking tourism with the heritage and culture regionally.

 

His Royal Highness Prince Sultan bin Salman bin Abdul Aziz, President of SCTH, had urged the constituent meeting of the tourism ministers in the GCC countries which was held in Kuwait in 2014, to link tourism with culture and heritage, proposing to hold an annual gathering of  tourism officials with their counterpart officials of culture. HRH President of SCTH repeated his proposal at the meeting of the Arab, Tourism Ministerial Council which was held in Sharjah in 2015.

 

In this effort, SCTH has prepared a unified draft to achieve integration between the tourism sector and culture in the GCC countries. The ministers of tourism in GCC countries approved the document last year in their meeting in Riyadh. The document offers a comprehensive vision for developing the mutual work between the two sectors for five years, besides it focuses on the importance of considering tourism as a major force for highlighting and preserving cultural heritage.

 

Study of economic impact of cultural heritage in the Kingdom:

 

SCTH in collaboration with the World Bank has conducted an economic study in an effort to detect the economic impact of the national cultural heritage in the creation of job opportunities.

 

The study highlighted the major indicators of cultural heritage in the Kingdom and evaluated the economic impact of implemented investments in the restoration and rehabilitation projects of cultural heritage sites.

 

The findings of the study indicated that, the investment in the national heritage will have greater positive impact on the national economy in terms of its contribution to increase and diversify of national income sources, creating job opportunities for citizens on the sites throughout regions. The study came up with a number of recommendations that are under implimentation by SCTH. – SCTA



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