DHAKA: The Saudi Tourism Authority is establishing a representative office in Bangladesh, its Asia-Pacific president told Arab News on Thursday. The authority hopes to attract more than 3 million Bangladeshi travelers to the Kingdom by 2030.
The STA was part of a Saudi delegation, led by Hajj and Umrah Minister Tawfiq Al-Rabiah, that visited Dhaka this week to launch the Kingdom’s flagship Nusuk initiative and to sign agreements with Bangladeshi authorities to boost ties between the two countries.
Nusuk is an e-visa and booking platform that allows pilgrims to create itineraries for Makkah, Madinah and beyond, and helps them arrange their visit.
While it was launched to streamline the Umrah journey for Bangladeshis, the STA also hopes they will visit the Kingdom’s heritage and nature sites.
“Our ambition is to attract more than 3 million Bangladeshis by 2030 … it is a very important market for us,” Alhasan Al-Dabbagh, STA president for Asia-Pacific markets, told Arab News in an interview in Dhaka on Thursday.
“(So far this year) we have welcomed more than 300,000 Bangladeshis to Saudi Arabia. Most of them are coming for Umrah, but also there are people who are coming to visit their family and friends. There are people who are coming for business as well.”
After an extensive promotional campaign in India earlier this year — which aimed to attract more than 12 million Indian visitors to Saudi Arabia by 2030 — during this week’s visit, the STA has signed agreements to boost its presence in Bangladesh.
“We’re doing a lot here. First of all, we’re establishing a rep office. We’re working now very closely with our trade partners, tour operators and travel agents,” Al-Dabbagh said.
The launch of Nusuk, extended visas for Umrah, and new transit visas for Bangladeshis, make Umrah easier than ever before and allow visitors to travel beyond the holy sites of Makkah and Madinah.
“Saudi has six UNESCO World Heritage sites. It has more than 10,000 archeological sites. And its topography is very diverse,” Al-Dabbagh said. “You have the big cities like Jeddah and Riyadh. You have the desert experiences. You have the beautiful Red Sea with its rich, colorful coral reef. And you have the mountains of Asir in the south, where the weather is always cool the entire year.”
Tourism is a booming sector in the Kingdom under Saudi Vision 2030, a key part of which is to position Saudi Arabia as a dynamic, diverse, year-round tourism destination. The plan is for tourism to contribute 10 percent to gross domestic product by 2030.
“This is why we are here today: to raise awareness of the offerings and experiences that we have in Saudi Arabia,” Al-Dabbagh said.
Source : Arab News