Kingdom of Saudi Arabia offers diverse experiences for different segments of Indian market. Good connectivity between the two nations and the kingdom’s stopover program adds to the visitors’ conveniences.
India is a country with a rich history and culture that has had long-standing ties with Saudi Arabia for hundreds of years. In recent years, Saudi Arabia has seen an increase in visitors from India with over 1 million visiting the kingdom in last one year. These include those visiting the country to meet family and friends, for leisure, business, and religious purposes. “The kingdom’s goal is to double the number of Indian visitors by the end of 2023 and further reach the 12 million mark by 2030, which will place India as the number one source market for Saudi Arabia, shared Alhasan Aldabbagh, President – APAC Markets, Saudi Tourism Authority.
Saudi Arabia is home to Arabian culture, rich heritage, pristine nature, and diversified landscapes. This diversity allows the kingdom to target different segments of the Indian market. “We are targeting different segments based on the feedback that we get from our trade partners. So, we are creating the experiences and packages for the culture and heritage seekers. For those seeking culture and heritage, Saudi Arabia offers over 10,000 archaeological sites, six UNESCO World Heritage sites, the historical town of Jeddah Al Ballet, and At-Turaif in Diriyah, Riyadh. For those seeking nature and adventure, Saudi Arabia offers the Red Sea for diving, the mountains of Sarawat for hiking, and sand duning in the desert for great adventure experiences. Additionally, packages are available for luxury travellers, MICE, and religious travellers doing Umrah,” said Aldabbagh.
There is good connectivity between Saudi Arabia and India, with eight direct air carriers and 10 indirect carriers. Weekly, there is a seat capacity of 72,000 and Saudi Arabia is working on increasing this through bilateral agreements and by increasing the number of slots for carriers in Saudi Arabia. “We have recently introduced a stopover program in Saudi Arabia, which is open to travelers from all countries and for any travel purpose, including leisure, business, visiting family and friends, and Umrah. By purchasing through Saudi Airlines or Flynas, travelers can obtain a free 96-hour visa online within minutes. Additionally, they will receive a complimentary one-night hotel stay as part of the package,” he said.
Aldabbagh highlighted that fact that there is a lot happening in Saudi Arabia, with something new happening every month. “There is a calendar of events that takes place throughout the year, with the Riyadh season in the winter and the Jeddah season in the summer being the most prominent. These festivals include the fusion of art, culture, and entertainment activities. There are also marquee events like the Formula One, Formula E, the largest tech concert in the Middle East, the Red Sea Film Festival, and art exhibitions in Saudi Arabia. In Diriyah, Riyadh, the Bugiri district has recently opened with many different brands and restaurants, including four Michelin star restaurants. There are also upcoming hotels such as the Saint Regis Hotel and Ritz Carlton Reserve and more,” he said.
India-Saudi Arabia relations
Aldabbagh highlighted that Saudi Arabia is keen on doing business with India. “Saudi Arabia is working closely with major platforms in India to launch large campaigns in the markets. Additionally, KSA has connected with all the key trade partners in India and is hosting roadshows and Fam trips to help grow businesses and promote Saudi Arabia. With these efforts, KSA hopes to achieve its target of having India as its number one source market,” he said.
Saudi Arabia has made significant strides in developing its tourism industry in recent years, with a focus on promoting cultural and natural attractions to international visitors. Some of the most popular tourist destinations include the historical site of Mada’in Saleh, and the Red Sea coast with its stunning coral reefs. The country has also implemented visa reforms to make it easier for tourists to visit, and plans to invest heavily in tourism infrastructure in the coming years.