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His Excellency Mr. Ahmad Al-Khatib
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Ministry of Tourism
Questions and Answers on Tourism
Last Update : 1/28/2019 11:30 AM
تم التقييم مسبقا
Tourism today is an important economic sector today. It is contributing effectively to the gross national product (GDP) of many countries in the world, because of its role in the national resources development and generating employment, in addition to its social and cultural importance.
With this premise, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia believes in the effective role of tourism in its socio-economic development, coupled with the keenness of Kingdom’s wise leadership for Kingdom to have an influential role in the field of tourism, in a manner consistent with the principles, values and traditions governing the Saudi society.
Ever since its establishment, SCTH has made tremendous progress in the tourism sector in many areas. In order to meet its forecasts squarely, SCTH’s immediate task was to develop its structure and statute, in addition to rising the social awareness of tourism and antiquities and its acceptance by the Saudi society. This required a broad participation of all relevant sectors of the society, with an emphasis that the Saudi citizen is the main focus of tourism in the Kingdom and all plans and programs to revolve around him.
The present booklet is meant to answer most of the questions related to tourism and antiquities in the Kingdom, and highlighting the functions and roles of SCTH in the system, which takes responsibility for the development of this promising economic sector. We hope that the partners and employees in the tourism sector, as well as the Saudi citizens, in general, will find this booklet answering adequately to whatever query that coms to their mind, and to any questions about the tourism and national heritage in the Kingdom, as well as efforts of SCTH in this direction.
SCTH - a brief history:
Supreme Commission for Tourism (SCT) was established by resolution of the Council of Ministers, No. (9), dated 14/04/2000. By a subsequent decision of the Council of Ministers No. (78), dated 24/03/2008 SCT's name was changed to Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA), having assumed control of the Antiquities and Museums sector in 2008.
On 29 June 2015, the Council of Ministers approved to change the name of (Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA) into the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH).
The vision of SCTH includes promotion of tourism sector and all its activities in the Kingdom while working within the concept of partnership with the various stakeholders and achieve a distinguished and sustainable tourism development to reap the social, cultural, ecological and economic benefits to the Saudi citizen while holding fast to Kingdom’s intrinsic, religious, social and cultural values.
Major objective of SCTH is to bring about the unified leadership and strategic planning for tourism in order to create a precise framework for consolidation and restructuring of the tourism industry, as well as planning for its steady growth.
Efforts of SCTH are supervised and run by its Board of Directors as the sole authority vested with the affairs of the Commission. SCTH Board of Directors is chaired by His Royal Highness Prince Sultan bin Salman bin Abdul Aziz, and the Board has a membership of a number of Under-Secretaries and officials from several tourism relevant Miniseries of the Kingdom.
SCTH works to facilitate sustainable and successful development for tourism industry in the Kingdom through paving a clear path for this important industry, as well as working in close partnership with tourism industry leaders and partners to create a sound environment in which this emerging industry can achieve a high degree of self-sufficiency.
With regard to SCTH mission towards national heritage, it will strengthen capacities of Antiquities and Museum sectors as well as preserving, registering, excavating and studying the national antiquities besides developing the museums and urban heritage, raising people’s awareness on the cultural heritage of the Kingdom, effectively managing the antiquities and museums, rehabilitating and developing cultural resources in order to prove to the member of the society and prompting the private sector investments in the antiquities and museums projects.
Board of Directors
: All the activities of SCTH are approved by the Governing Council (the Board of Directors), which is the sole authority vested with the affairs of the Commission. SCTH’s Board of Directors is chaired by His Royal Highness Prince Sultan bin Salman bin Abdul Aziz, and the Board has a membership of a number of Under-Secretaries and officials from several tourism relevant Miniseries in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
SCTH’s core activities
: SCTH governs all the tourism activities and tourism professions in the Kingdom and oversees the tourism accommodation sector (hotels and furnished apartments). It actively assists in organizing tourist visas for important visitors in coordination with the Ministries of Interior and Foreign Affairs. SCTH identifies tourist sites and plans ways to preserve them. It supervises the work of tour operators, tourism and travel agencies and tourist guides by awarding them operation licenses on the basis of their credentials. It supports tourism projects and provides necessary facilities in them, in addition to its absolute and inclusive control over the development of archeological sites and museums across the Kingdom.
Kingdom’s Tourism Potentials
1- What are the main fundamentals of tourism in the Kingdom?
Foundation of tourism in the Kingdom is based on a number of genuine multiple factors, most notably those related to its rich cultural values, geographical diversity, history and heritage, in addition to the absolute faith that tourism will lead to active movement towards openness, which led the State to promote tourism culture in the country and strengthening economy through it, while being committed to the basic fundamentals of the nation and social rules.
2- What is the role of tourism in the growth of cultural experience in Saudi Arabia?
Tourism is one of the means of cultural communication broadly led by the leadership of the Kingdom going by the vision of the politicians, intellectuals and journalists who consider tourism as a unique means to portray the regions of the Kingdom by their locations and their cultures, as well as open them up to the outside world that is eager to see and understand the diversity of the Kingdom.
3- When did tourism originate in the Kingdom?
Tourism is in the heart of a Saudi citizen, which hinges on the memory of Arabs that rejoiced novelty and are was eager for new discoveries. There are several references to this in the words of the founder of this Kingdome (may God rest his soul) that emphasize the value of identifying and mixing of different variations of the Kingdom and it was repeated said by his sons, the successive kings after him. SCTH only took this vision forward through its regulatory framework.
4- What is the historical depth of tourism in the Kingdom?
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is gifted with profound cultural, historical, religious and economic dimensions. Its land has been a passage for pilgrims, trade caravans and travelers from across the world. It was a link between the continents and cultures due to its central location. When these travelers passed through this land, some of them either chose to settle there or moved through it. This is evident from the effective presence of different cultures and civilizations maintained through the ages.
5- What are the objectives of tourism?
Objectives of tourism are not limited to the aspects of entertainment only, although this constitutes one of the important aims. The new concept of tourism, which is adopted by SCTH and led by the government, considers tourism as a sector of multiple benefits, including economic, cultural, social, heritage and environmental benefits as related to different segments of the society. Hence, it is evident that, this sector has a set of nested dimensions and aspirations that are in the service of the individual and the society.
6- Does tourism in the Kingdom consists of a single pattern?
Tourism pattern in the Kingdom takes multiple forms, including sports and adventure tourism, culture and heritage tourism; business, conferences and exhibitions tourism, health and healing tourism, ecotourism, shopping tourism, in addition to social tourism such as visits to relatives and friends, as well as scholastic tourism, besides numerous other patterns, like the summer tourism in coastal areas etc. SCTH has introduced the concepts of modern tourism styles in which creativity is linked to value. For this purpose SCTH offers a number of programs and activities to stimulate diversity.
7- Has tourism in the Kingdom been affected by the popular heritage?
The people of the country are loaded with memory of their parents, grandparents - hearing to their stories, learning about their trades, the traditional crafts and mythology. While talking and discussing about the journeys and discoveries of their ancestors, they are naturally enthused for tourism. Additionally, the emotional attachment to their relics and tools play a decisive role in promoting a unique patterns of tourism in the Kingdom. The positive imagery maintained for the local folk traditions, which is called the popular heritage, as an intangible heritage, which is counterbalanced by the tangible architectural heritage. SCTH has made tremendous efforts in organizing the first International Conference of the Architectural Heritage in the Islamic countries in May 2010, which will work as a better reference to highlight this point.
8- What is the impact of Islamic principles on the tourism in Saudi Arabia?
Islamic ideologies have brought in a number of values promoting tourism in the Kingdom, like Islam emphasizes the value of traveling through the globe. Etiquettes while dealing with others, hygiene, coexisting and bringing joy to others’ soul are some of these principles. Islam’s impact on tourism and travel is also felt in in the acquisition of knowledge and science through undertaking long travels. These are the principles inherent to Islam and SCTH takes cognizance of this vision in all its programs and activities.
9- What are the main achievements of SCTH in tourism?
SCTH has set up objectives of a comprehensive strategy and progress in tourism. These strategic goals are achieved gradually and systematically. SCTH celebrates the empowerment of the concept of tourism in the Saudi citizens. SCTH has made a positive shift in its claim in this regard. It succeeded in transferring the concept of tourism to be associated with individuals and institutions as a social responsibility. Accordingly, new tourism activities and programs undergo systematic organization, based on institutional vision and prospective studies with the participation of all ministries in the government and private institutions that are directly and indirectly connected with the tourism industry.
10- How far the government supports tourism sector in the Kingdom?
Government’s support for tourism in the Kingdom is implied in the SCTH’s founding resolution which has assigned it as an authorized body responsible for the management of tourism activity in the Kingdom. In addition to this, the annual allocated budgets for tourism by the Government and the provincial Governorates and relevant ministries implementing joint activities and programs with SCTH confirms to this point. SCTH in collaboration with its partners has implemented a number of financial supportive and regulatory programs to stimulate the growth of tourism in various provinces.
11. Is tourism in Saudi Arabia different from the other Arab countries and the West?
Tourism is an international activity in terms of mechanisms and services. Its procedures and regulations are largely the same in different countries. However, there are small differences at times, as countries develop administrative controls on some areas of tourism related to national identity and religious principles to ensure the growth of systematic tourism activity and programs amid national security and local interaction.
12. Do you take up activities and projects under bilateral agreements with other stakeholders?
SCTH believes in the importance of partnership in the implementation of its activities, programs and projects. Thus, it has spotted all the actors and institutions that could impact tourism activity. Accordingly, SCTH began in the bilateral agreements that provide for promoting the concept of tourism, offering its expertise as well as providing various relevant authorities with appropriate programs, in addition to the implementation of certain programs and activities through major campaigns requiring the participation of national institutions representing multiple national trends.
13. What are the major themes pursued by SCTH after signing partnerships with other players?
SCTH signed memorandums of cooperation and partnership agreements with various public and private institutions to organize the work and achieve the goals that require highest integration, ensuring excellence in the work and performance.
Partnerships include a number of themes, some of these are:
Support financing of tourism projects in small and medium enterprises and promote tourism investment.
Raising awareness among new generations (especially students), through education on the concepts of tourism.
Developing heritage and historical sites.
Collection and provision of GIS and satellite images.
Issuance of licenses to agencies of travel and tourism services.
Development of activities and events in the tourism sites.
Development of tourism in Natural Reserves.
Tourism human resources development.
Enhancing cooperation in the infrastructure development.
Saudi tourism patterns:
What are the main types of tourism in Saudi Arabia?
The Kingdom’s unique geographical location is a key factor for the multiplicity of tourism types.
We find options such as, summer, sports, coastal tourism and development of resorts and desert inns, in addition to investment options in health and hospitalization, conferences, exhibitions, ecotourism and shopping tourism etc.
SCTA is persistently emphasizing the existence of diversity in the Kingdom and multiplicity of tourism patterns in accordance with its size, components and multiple opportunities.
Tourism programs asso
ciated with desert environment have been found?
Desert represents a unique cultural depth in the Kingdom. Desert areas were invested on priority and began a series of programs in this context to take advantage of the sand dunes, valleys and, diverse atmospheric terrains in the Kingdom.
We went about this through establishing, camps, resorts, festivals, and sports, hobbies, such as, dessert car rallies, spring festivals, desert hawks training, horse and camel racing, car skating (Tateas) on sand, camping among many.
SCTA continues to develop tourism attraction suitable to each pattern and adds new programs on an ongoing basis.
Taking into account Kingdom’s long seacoast along the Red Sea and the Arabian Gulf, how are maritime tourism programs planned?
The long coastline of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia along the Red Sea and the Arabian Gulf requires exemplary openness on various tourism experiences. This prompted SCTA to pay great attention to sea-shores for development, configuration and activation. SCTA, in this context, also pays great attention to islands tourism development. Its effort in this respect received a boost with the decision of the Council of Ministers on 19.07.2005 approving the development strategy of Red Sea coast. SCTA has started executing this strategy through bilateral agreements with the Ministries of Defense, Transport, Agriculture, the MOMRA, the Royal commission for Jubail and Yanbu the Coast Guard and others. The plans are afoot in the field of investment for the optimal configuration of marine tourism in the Kingdom.
How do you recognize the manifestations of the diversity of tourism in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia?
Tourism in the Kingdom is based tourism on the value of diversity, depending on the composition of the cultures and the geographical position the Kingdom occupies. This results in varied aspects of tourism patterns, with variety of professions and aspects of dwellings etc.
A number of devices are contributing to the industry, with a variety of modern methods in their service.
SCTA is taking care to establish all these verities through a strategic vision. It requires the importance of having multiple programs and activities that are commensurate with the diversity of the Kingdom.
There are many aspects of traditional tourism in the Kingdom, and there could be new ones as well. Do you give equal treatment to both?
SCTA took care of the known patterns of tourism, and contributed to their development, and also worked hard in the creation of new patterns of tourism that are relate to various aspects of tourism in the Kingdom. It has opened the doors of communication with parties and individuals to receive new suggestions and ideas and developed multiple mechanisms to benefit from the experiences of various countries and tourism agencies in the world. But of course, the vision of SCTA and the fundamental Saudi environment pattern will take the lead in all this.
What are the creative strategies adopted by SCTA?
The patterns of innovation in the Saudi tourism are manifold and these are achieved through various activities and programs. Examples include: the educational programs such as ‘Tourism Enriches’, the ‘Smile’ program, as well as partnerships with multiple stakeholders through multiple means of communication with individuals and agencies; holding of meetings and conferences of international tourism, support for investment projects, establishment of tourism research centers, implementation of new administrative systems such as ‘Timeshare’ and decentralization among others.
The phenomenon of festivals and events are active examples of seasonal events in Saudi Arabia. What are the main advantages of this activity?
Within the paths of innovation in tourism, based on the nature of individual city in the Kingdom, cultural festivals and entertainment have been activated and then linked these products directly to the national tourism, which has a great public dimension.
These tourism types have taken their tourism components from their direct environment. This way, the new tourism visions created are contributing to the national tourism. Of these many tourism activities, they can be classified as, festivals of equestrian, flowers, perfumes and multi-arts, in addition to festivals of all cities.
With Saudi Arabia's vast economic boom, has the tourism of exhibitions and conferences gained attention?
Growth of Tourism tracks is symmetric, where the growth of exhibitions and conferences is closely linked to the economic aspect, which is witnessing resurgence in the Kingdom. Hence, the exhibitions and conference tourism has been given required attention in order for the sector to reach all international standards consistent with locations and the needs. Accordingly, major cities in the Kingdom have become attractive locations for such a tourism activity. The economic motive presents an ongoing challenge to business to achieve a high ceiling of preparation and to engage in this area of investment excellence.
How do you deal with the traditional patterns of tourism?
SCTA deals with diverse tourism types in accordance with an integrated administrative methodology.
The patterns of traditional tourism have already been listed and multiple studies on their emotional dimension and potential of their being reproduced again have been conducted. Research outcomes paved the way for developing regulatory frameworks to reproduce traditional souks, long-established games and traditional crafts through private and public institutions.
These are experiencing a high demand from all segments of society.
Has the traditional vision on tourism been addressed and new outlets opened?
SCTA undertakes marketing the concept of tourism that enhances national, religious and social values and while not contradicting them. It stresses the importance of acquisition of national and cultural values in order to show respect, care and preservation of them. This is considered a shift in the social awareness towards tourism. Observers have noted the existence of such a positive shift for community-based tourism.
How did SCTA invest in environmental sites that are suitable for tourism marketing?
The large geographical area of the Kingdom provides a wide range of natural reserves that offers an opportunity for tourist an enjoyable experience, whether in deserts, mountains, valleys or forests. There are fifteen natural reserves in the Kingdom that include various flora and fauna of the Kingdom.
Tourism and Development:
What are the special features of tourism across the provinces of the Kingdom?
Tourism in the Kingdom is open for all international types compatible with its environment, vision as well as its cultural and social values as the country is the source of Islam and the host to Two Holy Mosques and it is a Muslims’ spiritual destination. The most significant Saudi features that can be noticed by tourists are:
Prevention of alcohol and alcoholic beverages
Modesty of dress for women and men
Closure of commercial activities and market during prayer times
Honoring the guests with warm welcome
Men only are allowed to drive cars
Nudity ban on beaches
How far tourism impacts Saudi cities and provinces?
Tourism directly impacts Saudi citizen by reviving economy, creating attention to the local products, opening new areas for investment, strengthening the social fabric through securing special tourism incubators. Tourism activity also creates environmental and cultural identities for cities and provinces when their own environmental potentials such as mountains, deserts and similar products are being properly invested.
Does tourism activity boost national economy benefiting citizens?
Certain features of tourism impact economy directly, especially for individuals, through provision of jobs and means of production as well as providing social and cultural development in various forums, particularly when media assumes duty towards various national proceedings, monitoring a number of events and activities, related to such as foods and sports in different regions, held seasonally through various tourism events.
How is the principle of decentralization applied in the management of tourism affairs throughout the 14 provinces of the Kingdom?
SCTA is creating new mechanism to provide provinces and local communities with broad powers in the tourism industry according to their local conditions. In this context it has established tourism development council in many of the provinces of the Kingdom, as well as has established sixteen Provincial Tourism Organizations (PTOs) in its efforts to provide logistic of human needs. SCTA also undertakes supervision, coordination, and planning and programs. This decentralized approach allows provinces sensing their direct function in tourism development, as well as generating sense of positive competition among provinces.
What is the administrative mechanism of SCTA's provincial bodies?
SCTA's provincial bodies are undertaking a number of tasks, including the following:
- Updating of tourism development plans, and preparation of operational programs
Community awareness of the importance of tourism
Coordination between public and private sectors
Work to overcome obstacles to investors
Saudizing of tourism jobs
Developing periodic reports on the activities and areas of tourism development
Granting necessary licenses, such as for accommodation facilities, tourism and travel agencies, and tour operators
What is the benefit of manifestations of traditional souks and old residential areas in tourism development?
Traditional souks and old residential areas are representing key factor for tourism development. SCTA has dealt with this type of tourism quite early, and in collaboration with stakeholders in all regions it has transformed old residential areas and traditional souks into preserved elements with tourism attraction, until they begin to take their full presence in the tourist programs. In this context we can refer to Al Zul Souk in downtown Riyadh, the Najran’s traditional Souk , Al Thulatha Souk in Asir, Buraidah’s Popular Souk, Al Thulatha Souk in Al Baha and Al Qaisaryia Souk in Al Hafouf.
Traditional locations (Such as palaces, heritage towns and heritage villages) represent an integral part of a modern city in the Kingdom. Have these attracted tourism development?
Tourism in the Kingdom goes on two balanced lines; innovation and development. The path of development and rehabilitation is promoted in various activities, including heritage towns and villages and old palaces, and Kingdom has a large number of these palaces, (Such as Al Masmak, Al Morab'a, Shubrah, Al Sagaf, Najran Amara and Al Rass), and heritage towns and villages (Like, Al Ula, Al Ghat, Rejal Alm'a, Ze Aian, Jeba and Al Moznib). SCTA has developed the regulatory framework to take care of these through systematic development and rehabilitation through the contributions of SCTA and the private sector.
What about the heritage houses?
SCTA has made a number of tourism programs to regulate the personal procession of archeological and heritage items by some Saudi citizens, because it believe that tourism work is a shared and common tendency for all. Creating awareness of the value of heritage and collectibles is one of the major goals of SCTA’s efforts, which deliberately seek to enhance and expand it amongst the public. Within its efforts to support this tendency, SCTA provides financial assistance for their preservation and rehabilitation, provide planning and display mechanisms in addition to registration, and monitoring such heritage houses, and also restoration of owners’ right to them.
SCTA, in collaboration with Saudi Credit and Saving Bank (SCSB) is financing the development of heritage buildings, what are the criteria for selection of heritage buildings that are funded?
In addition to owner's acceptance to invest the site, there are many criteria that should be met, including: historical significance and age of the building, building's core function, rarity as architectural distention, the condition of the building or construction sites and the proportion of damage or deterioration and the possibility of re-employment of the building for tourism purposes or investment. Additionally the necessity of providing basic services near the site, ease of access, and the presence of cultural events near the location, the presence of an investor willing to invest,
approval of the Commission on the investment activity, and the classification building into A or B depending on the criteria form for classification of heritage sites.
What are the requirements to obtain funding from the SCSB?
In accordance with the decision of the Board of Directors of the Saudi Credit and Saving Bank (SCSB), on the approval of the program of financing the heritage buildings and villages, No. 2833, date 02.03.1431 (15/2/2010)
the applicant must be an individual, the project to be treated under the list of service projects issued by the Board of Directors and conditions that the applicant for funding holds the necessary permits from competent authorities, and that the project should be emerging or small capable for expansion. Finally the owner should have, not more than two such service facilities, should not have been convicted in breach of trust previously, he should not be debtor to the bank for any another project and the availability of feasibility study
In the event that the project is integrated based and includes several buildings, it must be given heed under a company or an institution or an association to take a legal and licensed status, and that the program is coming under the supervision of SCTA, accompanied by an accredited economic or feasibility study by, and financing will 50% of the total cost and a maximum of seven million Saudi riyals
How would you describe shopping tourism in the Kingdom?
Economic activity represents an effective presence in Saudi tourism from country’s global financial weight, in addition to the nature of Saudis who are fond of travel and shopping as such, wide range of shopping malls and markets have become the major aspects of expansion and a milestone in the Saudi society. This prompted shopping tourism to appear in multiple patterns like traditional stores, large international shopping malls. At the same, the Saudi market is well qualified to compete with international products.
All this contributes to the economic mobility of tourism.
What are the aspects of tourism investment of the big time spent by Saudi family during shopping process?
Markets started to absorb modern patterns pertaining to the various desires of family shopping by extending commercial product like game arcades, recreational areas, cosmetic centers, training centers, and provide additional options of shopper services, such as mail services, internet cafes, coffee parlors and others, so that the phenomenon of shopping area is comprising of a number of events.
What are the tourism plans that accompany expansion of economic projects of huge economic scale?
SCTA develops multiple frameworks to ensure quality output of tourism, because it believes that the richness and the geographic diversity in the Kingdom is able to embrace various huge economic projects with tourism vision. Addressing to this, SCTA has developed many courses of actions to accommodate modern, improved and innovative. SCTA mobilizes its full potential to stimulate all the new ideas visions.
Is the local business interested in the tourism vision and the models presented by SCTA?
SCTA is committed to the business with its tourism vision, and so out of national principles and the faith in partnership with community in achieving the constants of the homeland, SCTA presents its programs and activities reinforced through explanation and detailed clarifications. Through the survey of multiple perspectives taken from the business itself coupled with the views offered by economists, intellectuals and journalists. However, SCTA's put its responsibility and its partners and programs to test and evaluation, and closely follows up the achievements and activities ensuring good performance.
What are the main areas of cooperation with economic sector to enable tourism projects in their activities?
Through partnerships and bilateral agreements SCTA attempts to promote tourism programs and activities as a national duty towards economic organization as a source of income, and this aspect of achieving balanced growth in economic activity and tourism becomes a big challenge before the Commission, which makes it depend on businessmen's awareness of national tourism to adopt this vision.
Does SCTA react with economic sector with tourism and what are the most prominent manifestations of this?
Upon SCTA's belief on the importance of businessmen interest, it offers tourism plans and projects in a manner that do not conflict with businessmen’s economic vision and ambition, but also in a manner that does not ignore the importance of implementation of tourism plans as well as economic programs in line with its commitment toward national development.
Does tourism in the Kingdom provide opportunity to Small and Medium Enterprises
(SMEs) that do not need big capital?
One of the biggest advantages of tourism in the Kingdom is it opens various economic areas, allowing several big economic opportunities from which individuals and SMEs may form special projects. SCTA in this respect also supports and promotes this tendency, designing required training courses on the correct ways for starting small projects which have special importance due to diversity of their areas as well as their importance for providing jobs to Saudis, specially for youth in addition to the effective contribution of these projects in the development of society regionally and nationally through partnership and close cooperation with relevant authorities.
SCTA has signed a number of memorandums of cooperation with supportive authorities such as Saudi Credit and Saving Bank, Millennium Fund, Human Resources Fund, Council of Saudi Chambers and a number of banks. Here it should be noted that, many individuals and establishments have succeeded in small projects related to tourism services in the light of SCTA's efforts towards providing unlimited support to SMEs like handicrafts, tour operators, travel agencies, tourist guides and tourism information and promotion agencies.
How could tourism in the Kingdom benefit from citizen in general and youth in particular in operation and management of tourism activity?
SCTA's work priorities are based on its national responsibility, and since the launch of tourism activities it has been looking for the best ways to achieve its strategic goals, the most important of which were - increase and Saudize tourism jobs in line with the increased requirement of the society as well as steady growth in SCTA's activities, which provided huge opportunity for benefiting from citizens' varied qualifications, forefront of them is the youth sector.
How was SCTA successful in the execution of its administrative vision benefiting from citizens in tourism programs?
SCTA has started this vision through establishing vocational standards, preparing training programs in accordance with the international standards in an effort to prepare qualified and distinguished specialists in the field of tourism in collaboration with partners in public and private sectors, universities, training centers, and scholarship programs in order to train human recourses throughout the following tourism activities:
Tourism and travel agencies
Accommodation sector (furnished apartments and hotels)
Haj and Umra
Antiquities and Museums sector
Is there any arrangement between the various tourism fields for the sake of the unity of tourist attractions to achieve higher economic benefits?
Foundation of SCTA was an important step to achieve an organizational unity for tourism activities and programs; SCTA for his purpose has laid out general frameworks that may adjust progress of tourism activities and programs. Administrative structure of SCTA was established on the decentralization principle, plans. Frameworks are the same but areas of implementation are various within a general framework laid by SCTA in order to ensure unity of vision and objectives.
Did tourism organizational plans developed to restore activity of old historic souks like Souk Okaz?
SCTA has developed an organizational frame for old and historic souks, through conducting field surveys, following souks’ activities in the past and the present. Accordingly, it has set comprehensive plans to restore tourism activity to these souks in collaboration with relevant authorities like the provincial Amaras. Within the great activity of Makkah Amara, Souk Okaz has implemented a number of programs and activities in which SCTA has extensively participated.
Information and surveys
What is the rate of turnout of Saudi citizens to domestic tourism?
Field studies affirm that 70% of citizens spend tourism trips inside the Kingdom. There are specific seasons during which the rate of domestic tourism increases significantly, even periodical growth of rates of Saudi tourists are remarkable from the study of specific locations or locations that SCTA and relevant authorities have just finished developing. This not only refutes the sayings that - citizen does not prefer domestic tourism - rather it confirms the rates of growth in domestic tourism and these rates are in gradual increasing in the light of constant successes achieved by SCTA due to the partnerships and mutual agreements it applies and in the first place due to citizen's increased awareness.
Is there big difference between Saudi tourism experience and Arabic and international experiences?
Tourism concepts and patterns are similar, while diversity in environment and geography is an area of difference between countries. Therefore, most of the areas of tourism are the same across the world including provided services, while uniqueness and particularity remain the most important features of places. Here, we must confirm that, mainly the targeted sector by Saudi tourism is the Saudi tourist. Accordingly, most of tourism's patterns are compatible to Saudi tourist's aspirations.
What are investment rates that Saudi tourism must reach?
According to the estimations of the Tourism National Strategy in the Kingdom 2009-2019, it is expected that the size of tourism investment in hotel and furnished apartments
to reach SR 97.5 billion ($ 26 billion).
What is the rate of tourism revenues in the Kingdom?
SCTA has predicted that tourism's revenues during 2010 to reach around SR 66 billion with a growth rate reaching 4.76% compared to 2009. The total tourism revenues are expected to reach SR 119 billion by 2015 and SR 172 billion by 2020.
What is the number of available jobs in tourism activities and what is the rate of Saudis employees on these jobs?
Direct jobs in tourism's different areas in 2000-2009, jumped from 333,123 to 457,658 with a growth rate of 37% (annual growth is 7.4%), the numbers of Saudis who worked in tourism sector increased from 66,704 to 117,384 in 2000-2009 with a growth rate reaching 60% (annual growth rate was 12%), and Saudization rate has in general reached 26%.
What is the rate of international tourists in the Kingdom?
Major focus of tourism activities in the Kingdom is directed to the Saudi citizen and the expatriates in the Kingdom as key priority of SCTA, which does not conflict with the existence of specialized programs for foreign tourists. SCTA in this respect has finalized e-visa program in collaboration with the ministries of interior and foreign affairs. The system was launched in 2006, and it started covering an elite group of foreign tourists to many tourism sties in the Kingdom.
What is the growth rate in tourism of festivals and domestic celebrations?
Growth rate in tourism festivals and domestic celebrations is recording notable growth, media and economic vibrant competition could be seen by all concerned people while celebrations started to gradually attract various sectors besides, being occasions that are awaited by all relevant authorities throughout provinces in addition to their significant economic impact on the notable activity that accompany these events.
What are the key features of tourism sites development?
SCTA continuously enriches tourism sites with developmental vision. Development wheel does not stop at the time of opening and operation only, but projects of development remain vivid, for this reason SCTA holds seminars and brain storming workshops in an effort to be updated in dealing with tourism sites, setting up new programs as well as providing daily and permanent services, paying great attention to tourism products in conjunction with preservation of tourism sites.
What dose tourism income represent to the Kingdom?
Tourism income represents a key indicator to tourism activity in the Kingdom, where statistics have indicated continual rise in it according to multiplicity of tourism areas and patterns, which has led to diversity and overcrowding in tourism organizations as well as the activities and the programs of these organizations.
Upon SCTA's authority on tourism sector in the Kingdom it generally sponsors any kind of tourism activity throughout the country. It also assumes supervision, organization and development of tourism activities and seasonal events. Tourism income has contributed in large multiplicity in areas of the national economy in the Kingdom, because economic activities no longer is confined to regular areas, like stocks and real estates and the like, besides tourism activities have created new and recurrent jobs in addition to different areas of work and specialization.
What are the most significant areas of investment in domestic tourism?
Kingdom's vast area with geographical and cultural diversity requires large areas of investment. Here we have to refer to the most prominent investment trends which include tourism accommodation facilities, restaurants, supply service, exhibitions and conferences, tourism and travel agencies, tourist guide services, banks, various trades, medical care and entertainment services., in addition to various types of traditional investments in which SCTA works hard to find more feasible investment areas for investors ensuring many guarantees to investors in this respect.
What are the areas of work allowed by SCTA to businessmen?
SCTA does not focus on multiplicity of work areas only, but it also secures incubators and attractive environment as well as provides different required services to ensure investment growth and continuity. In response to this, SCTA has established investment service centers and tourism licensing in an effort to provide appropriate environment to communicate with investors. Besides, SCTA provides required information on tourism investment, offers investment incentives, addressing investment obstacles especially financial obstacles, which required from SCTA to sign a number of agreements and memorandum of cooperation with funding authorities such as Saudi Credit and Saving Bank (SCSB), Millennium Fund, Human Recourses Fund, Council of Saudi Chambers, in addition to a number of national banks.
Is there any intention to launch an economic project to establish huge tourism destinations that could provide integrated tourism experience?
SCTA through its upcoming steps seeks to establish a holding company for tourism development, in an effort to determine tourism possible opportunities as well as establishing sub-tourism development companies across new tourism areas in partnership with public and private sectors.
Likewise, SCTA seeks to establish Al Ogair Development Company and another company for heritage hotels development. SCTA also in collaboration with the Ministry of Finance seeks to set up mechanisms for long-term renting of public tourism lands in an effort to attract investors and relevant owners, providing Okaz Souk as tourism cultural destination for investment to private sector in addition to providing Al Thomama Southern Park project as entertainment destination.
Are there any prepared future plans for offer to businessmen?
SCTA, through studies and research centers as well as in communication with assisting authorities, is developing future tourism programs to be offered to investors, businessmen chambers councils and companies in order to execute the economic part of these programs. SCTA then will follow up tourism affairs in these programs. SCTA, on the other hand, offers its services and experience to study the proposed projects. SCTA also conducts a number of studies, in collaboration with national and international consultation firms, to study tourism investment opportunities across different provinces of the Kingdom and offer these projects as investment portfolios to investors and businessmen who wish to engage in areas of tourism investment in the Kingdom.
What are the aspects of cooperation between SCTA, Council of Saudi Chambers, Tourism Development Councils and the large firms in the areas of tourism?
Mutual partnerships and agreements are considered as one of the best means of work as adopted by SCTA to run its business properly and SCTA’s regulations were established consistent with this concept.
SCTA, based on its strong belief that the work it does is an important national duty, and the area of performance of this duty is the entire homeland, besides its audience is all the citizens in the Kingdom which requires the contribution of all the relevant aforementioned authorities based on the broad vision that was approved by the Council of Ministers upon which SCTA was authorized to run the tourism sector in the Kingdom.
Do tourism's different investment areas have required regulations?
Various regulations have been studied by SCTA and discussed by specialists and experts and adopted by SCTA. Any authority or individual that deals with SCTA or benefits from its programs in addition to the targeted group, mainly the tourists, could access to the detailed regulations in this respect via SCTA's official website www.scta.gov.sa , or through visiting PTOs, SCTA provincial arms.
Did tourism investment areas allow creativity, diversity and upgrading?
In view of the great riches of Saudi nature, SCTA gives special importance to raising the cultural values that are associated with the daily work, including, creativity and development. SCTA does not offer final formula of its programs and activities, but its 'idea laboratory' is ever active and constantly remains keen to shift its works and programs into new environments and prospects.
How could businessmen communicate with SCTA to plan for investment projects?
SCTA sees the economic sector as a key partner in different programs and activities; therefore, it seeks to conclude permanent integrated partnerships with it, creating different means and tools to properly communicate with it individually or collectively through large economic institutions.
Large joint project could be executed through memorandums of cooperation, mutual meetings, and workshops or through Investment Services Centers and Tourism Licensing that were established by SCTA. Through these SCTA provides necessary information on tourism investment opportunities, offers investment portfolios in addition to addressing investment's possible obstacle besides providing proper solutions to them, offering incentives and support, procedures facilitating besides allowing direct and quick communication with the General Directorate of Investment Services at SCTA.
What are the most encouraging potentials for business capital to invest in tourism?
Everyone agrees that, political stability and security are the key potentials for encouraging tourism, tourists and capitals; however, there are other potentials prompt capital, such as;
availability of natural resources
special geographical location
Infrastructure, transportation and advanced communication means
High cultural and social awareness and availability of human resources
information transparency and advanced general administrative systems
encouraged tourism climate, availability of investment incentives and governmental support to tourism
availability of public and private sectors funds, and
Providing feasibility studies to tourism projects is considered a "Key" element to attract and stimulate investment in tourism sector.
Licensing and Quality:
What are the most important licensed tourism activities?
Timeshare and tourism real estate
Are there some tourism activities banned by SCTA?
SCTA allows all areas of tourism to investors under the government umbrella and regulations are which consistent with the international regulations in the field of tourism.
How can the information on licenses and services that are provided by SCTA be accessed?
SCTA provides brochures covering all its activities it licenses, such as:
Directory of license of tourism accommodation facilities
Directory of license of travel and tourism agencies
Directory of license of tourism guides
Directory of license of tour operators
Executive regulation of timeshare
Copies from these directories and related application forms are posted on SCTA's website www.scta.gov.sa.
The activities that are allowed for submission via SCTA website first through paperless transaction are:
- Timeshare activity
Tourism trip organizers
What is 'quality criterion' in the tourism potential in the Kingdom?
In view of the intense competition in international tourism market, it is time for setting a regulation and a measurement system to ensure quality of tourism in the Kingdom. For this purpose, SCTA has developed and implemented licensing regulations for tourism activities in which it has included tourism quality criteria for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in an effort to achieve a competitive advantage in tourism products as well as setting up requirements of consumer protection.
Therefore, SCTA's role does not depend on licensing and registration of tourism activities only, rather, it provides consultation to investor before and after the execution of tourism project. Quality regulations aim at integration of all the elements that may impact product or service's quality that are provided by one of the facilities, where many service providers wish to achieve quality and exert great efforts to reach this goal, but most of these efforts are focused on inspection activities and damage control at the end of process in each phase.
Inspection itself cannot ensure product quality, to guarantee product's quality one has to design and build quality from the very beginning of the activity. Commitment on quality criteria is appropriate means to achieve customer satisfaction.
What the role of SCTA in organizing accommodation sector?
Accommodation sector is considered as one of the most important tourism sectors. For this reason, SCTA waited until being given full authorization on it, where a memorandum of cooperation was signed with the Ministry of Commerce and Industry according to which the two parties agreed to set up and execute joint quality control programs on accommodation sector throughout the Kingdom in order to ensure existence of the key elements of (security, cleanness and safety) as well as rising the level of provided services in accommodation facilities in addition to creating database of accommodation sector in the Kingdom.
The actual application of these programs has been carried out throughout various provinces of the Kingdom where joint inspection teams were also formed across the Kingdom to check upon hotels and furnished flats in order to address and correct status of violators in the sector.
SCTA after being given authority on tourism accommodation sector has concluded large number of joint seminars and workshops with a number of relevant authorities in an effort to organize this sector as well as set up its institutional and structure. A comprehensive plan in this context was carried out to reclassify hotels and furnished flats across the Kingdom through applying classification's new criteria which was developed in accordance with the international classification standards, “five stars" type. The plan included reviewing specifications of furnished flats regarding "three levels" in order to avoid any confusion between furnished flats and real estate units, taking into account continual changing in requirements of hotels guests, showing transparency towards guests as well as performing higher level of service benefiting from international featured examples and keep on discussions with concerned people in private sector in hotels and furnished flats.
SCTA's efforts in this respect was crowned by the announcement of full classification of hotels throughout the Kingdom, for five stars, on March, 2010, while furnished flats classification was finalized on June, 2010.
Are there any administrative regulations to arrange and control work performance in Travel and Tourism Agencies?
After supervision power on travel and tourism agencies was transferred to SCTA, it has immediately created a new database for travel and tourism agencies accessible across the Kingdom. It also developed new procedures to license and control agencies in an effort to assure those agencies are practicing valid activity with required quality. SCTA in this regard, represented in PTOs, makes field inspection visits to enforce regulations to ensure that agencies are abiding by licensing conditions..
70- Do Travel and Tourism Agencies cover different areas of the Kingdom?
Travel and tourism agency activity is highly supported by SCTA, besides it is also promoting large investment in it. SCTA works to overcome any potential obstacles that may hinder tourism investment in general, in order to make tourism services accessible easily throughout the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia's different provinces.
71- How are requirements of investor as well as tourist met through SCTA's services?
SCTA's dealing method with investor and tourist are based on the principle of partnership. SCTA is always keen to learn closer to the investors’ and stakeholders' views before issuing any new regulations. In this respect it conducts special workshops and meetings to discuss any possible modifications or issue new regulations. Tourist is seen by SCTA as a mirror reflecting SCTA's efforts in its organization of tourism activities, through providing multiple channels to allow tourist to suggest his views or submit his complaints. All considerations are taken into account by SCTA for ensuring the continual processes of improvement and development of its efforts.
72- What are the efforts of SCTA to ensure the quality control in tourism sector and ensue its commitment to competitive price?
SCTA has explored the most prominent international experiences in the field of quality control as well as classifying tourism activities like the fixing prices etc. Accordingly it sets up licensing control procedures and quality assurance criteria to ensure proper provision of tourism services.
As for prices, the maximum limit of rates of residence in tourism accommodation facilities was determined based on the classification of those facilities and level of provided services in these facilities, which made price matching to the quality of service provided, which would prompt investors to develop and improve provided services in tourism accommodation sector. In SCTA's efforts to fix the price, the price would be in exchange of provided service. It conducts persistent inspection visits to ensure facilities' commitment to licensing and classification conditions, their adherence to specific prices according to the classification grades they had, besides enforcing fines against violating facilities.
73- How far SCTA sponsors tourist guides’ activities?
SCTA has organized tourist guide profession in order to promote the role of tourist guides to provide distinct services while he accompanies tourists and provide them with correct information on tourism sites in a proper manner, as well as pushing up the levels of provided tourism services in the Kingdom.
Tourist guide activity did not exist before the institution of SCTA. In coordination with the Ministry of Interior, SCTA has set up required controls and conditions for licensing tourist guides. SCTA also, in coordination with the National Center for Assessment has laid out vocational assessment for tourist guides under three categories – General tourist guide, Tourist guide for specific area, Tourist guide for specific site. For this purpose it has set up codified examinations to assess tourist guide applicant's skills, education, culture and behavior. Also an electronic portal is created to allow anyone that seeks tourist guide license to apply for license via SCTA website.
For the purpose of developing tourist guide skills, SCTA in coordination with the World Federation of Tourist Guide Associations (WFTGA) has trained a number of Saudi universities’ teachers to conduct training programs for tourist guides. Several training courses were held to qualify tourist guides in a number of provinces across the Kingdom.
74- What is the key concept of Timeshare, which is licensed by SCTA?
SCTA was assigned to study Timeshare in tourism real estate. Accordingly, SCTA has prepared a bill for which it sought help from a number of international and national consultants and specialists who conducted comparative studies for best international experiments in the field of Timeshare regulations.
After the bill was widely discussed by the legislative bodies, in particular the "Majlis Al Shura" and the "Council of Ministries", it has been approved finally through a Royal Decree No. 52/m, dated 13th September, 2006. The Royal Decree approved Timeshare in accommodation sector after HRH Prince Sultan bin Salman bin Abdul Aziz, President of SCTA had approved the executive regulation of the system on 12th May, 2005, whereby Timeshare is currently licensed.
SCTA has met all requirements of Timeshare regulation to ensure its best execution, including building electronic systems, providing human and technical requirements that are necessary for its application.
Timeshare concept is buying the right of benefiting from an apartment in tourism accommodation facilities for a specific period of time around the year, not less than three years, due to an agreed contract in return of an agreed amount. Timeshare system allows large revival for capital in the tourism sector.
75- Do SCTA's services cover provincial areas according to the rate of tourists?
Actually the rate of performance is equal to the rate of demand. It is a commonly agreed marketing custom. However, SCTA's effort does not stop there. It persistently seeks in its plans and programs to tackle rates of lower turnouts in some tourist locations through increasing efforts of development and rehabilitation as well as implementing the recommendations of specialized workshops and researches, in addition to responding to the suggestions of investors and tourists.
76- How does the Commission deal with complaints of service users?
SCTA considers its service users as partners and have effective role in setting and assessing its strategy. So, the Commission deals seriously with any complaint it receives from beneficiaries, and it works for finding a fast solution to the complaints. It looks to the user complaint as an element of assessment and quality control and it adds it as one of the means of general control and quality assurance of the tourist product. It even opens the ways of continuous connection with the users in this context in particular.
77- How does SCTA look to investor and tourist, and does it prefer one to the other?
The Commission deals with the investor and tourist within the framework of productive partnership, and therefore it provides for them various ways of reaching and assessing the services and their participation in making them.
78- Do great geographical expansion in the kingdom and tourist diversity stand as challenges for Commission work?
No doubt, the depth, the diversity and richness in the cultural, environmental and geographical scope in the kingdom represent a great challenge and greater distinction. So, SCTA does not deal with ay one tourist frame, but it puts its plans and programs which deal with this wide diversity, and it keeps asking the society, partners and the concerned parties to consolidate and cooperate to give success to the national tourism project as a national duty of all people.
Tourist sites development
79- What are the public tourist places? And how were they specified?
These are the natural tourist sites of public ownership which are good for development and tourist investment, and which have been specified through a field survey in partnership with government authorities in the regions for all tourist sites, that number about 12,000, after analyzing them through specific technical standards and in association with related parties in the regions. The output was represented in 956 sites, which are good for development and tourist investment (natural and archeological) in thirteen regions of the kingdom, and through these, 430 public tourist sites (place) were specified.
80- How the public tourist places were developed?
In association with the main partners in the region, SCTA develops the public tourism places which attract investment through a system developed on the basis of previous international experiences of a series of projects covering a number of public tourism places to be developed as tourist destinations of multiple uses, or tourist resorts used as sites for tourist investment projects such as resorts, parks and others. Specific priorities are set for starting preparation of development plans of these places according to negotiable standards set up for this purpose.
81- What do we mean by tourist destination/resort?
By this we mean the public tourist places outside the urban scope of the kingdom’s cities with several attraction elements and strategic dimensions (economic, historical, cultural, political and environmental) at the national or regional level. The public tourist place on the Red Sea coast refer to resort, and can be developed as destinations or resorts of multiple use, of which tourism will be an economic pillar. In these destinations and resorts there will be several activities, and tourism recreational services in addition to the residential, commercial, educational and sport facilities. These will be able to attract investors to implement their projects and tourists to spend their vacations. These destinations or resorts are given high development priority, which requires supervision, management and direction by SCTA through the policies of supervision and investment. The Commission classifies the new destinations and sites into categories according to their geographical properties: Coastal, Mountains and Deserts.
82- How many public tourist places have been developed, and waiting for investment?
Twenty-four Tourist places were developed in eight areas, and they are ready to be offered for tourist investment. These areas are Holy Makkah, Allaith, Souk Okaz, Madina Almunawara, Alrais, Sea Frontage in Yanbu, Algunfuda, Jabal Guds, Harrat Ruhat, Eastern Province,- Alaqir, Asir, Albark, Algahma, Al Bark Park, Al Yazid Park, Jazan region, Fursan Islands, Ras Altarfa, Albaha region, Algam Park, Jadar Valley, Tabuk region, Gayal /Sharma, Aljouf region and Dumat Aljandal.
83- What is meant by preparing tourist places?
This means preparing attractive public tourism places, which are ready for investment presently through implementing the minimum limit of facilities and services which enrich the visit for the tourist, such as roads, car parks, pedestrian paths, shaded sitting areas, in addition to guiding signboards and some necessary constructions, such as visitor center and water cycles, according to need of each site.
83- How is SCTA providing support to tourist projects owned by other sectors?
They are provided with all necessary tools that guarantee the implementation of sustainable tourist projects to enjoy high economic benefits as well as leading to environmental conservation and multiple interests for local community. This includes formulating of a joint work team with other relevant sectors to supervise the development of sector's projects. SCTA implements workshops to develop tourist development mechanisms, providing them with experience of the prominent international experts in the field of tourism development.
84- What are the technical directories implemented by SCTA to enable enable its partners towards sustainable development in a planned, structured, and disciplined manner?
SCTA prepared a number of directories to enable the partners in the field of sustainable tourism development, and implemented instructive workshops supported by evidences for all partners. Some of these directories are:
- Tourism projects development directory.
- Eco-lodges and agro-lodges (investor’s directory).
- Technical Manual for the establishment of establishment of Bed and Breakfast Inns.
- Directory of technical guides for establishing rural rest houses.
- Directory for construction in the mountain tourism areas (Al Baha as a case study).
- Directory of model designs of environmental houses and rural rest houses.
85- What program is there to address the visual distortion in tourism areas?
Physical environment of cities and villages is the most important aesthetic elements which help to highlight tourism. Urban style has great impact in designing building facades consistent with the natural environment.
Due to the importance of this element in the tourism, SCTA in cooperation with partners at the Ministry of Rural and Municipal Affairs (MOMRA), the municipalities of governorates and cities are working for developing some architectural requirements and regulations in the municipalities with respect to building colors. Agreements are underway with the municipalities in the mountain areas in Asir, Al Baha and Al Taif in the preparation of necessary technical studies in this matter to list a number of building colors matching the surrounding nature so as to reduce the optical distortion throughout the mountain cities and villages resulted from the use of building materials with non-homogeneous nature, or due to painting the buildings with colors not in harmony with the surrounding environment.
86- How does SCTA deal with visual distortion?
This can be done through the directory of Construction and Building in the Mountain Areas which is prepared by the MOMRA in association with SCTA. The directory is a scientific methodology to help the secretariats and the municipalities of mountainous areas in the preparation of construction systems commensurate with the mountainous nature of these areas due to the limited areas of land suitable for urban development planning.
87- Has SCTA started the work on projects to address the visual distortion?
SCTA implemented a number of projects which deal with the problem of visual distortion, such as the project of changing colors of building of Abha Palace Hotel in Asir region, where the Commission in cooperation with Abha Palace Hotel applied the study of construction and building systems on a number of buildings as an experiment through which a list of colors consistent with the surrounding nature of the hotel building are used to minimize visual distortion, and help in finding harmony between the buildings of the hotel and its natural environment. A List of colors were offered by the study are applied for all hotel buildings so that this project becomes a model to be followed in other mountain areas.
Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities also cooperated with the Taif Governorate to prepare a list of colors suitable with the natural environment of the province by selecting Wadi Zi Gazal of Taif as a model for the application of the study done through with the participation of the community, to be circulated to other areas of the province. A List of colors suitable with the natural surrounding are determined, that contribute to minimizing the visual distortion occurring as a result of using building materials and colors inconsistent with the surrounding nature. This joint study was conducted through a technical team from SCTA and the Governorate of Taif. The Commission is currently implementing a list of colors on a number of buildings in the valley and then apply the same methodology to the rest of the mountainous tourist areas.
88- What do we mean by, eco-tourism or rural (agricultural) tourism?
Recently we witness a boom in a new type of tourism, which is the environmental and rural tourism which depends on natural attraction factors. Another sector of tourists appeared which is different from those who spend their holidays, traditionally. This group prefer to spend their vacation in a novel way that provides them with a opportunity to move away from the hustle and noise of modern life to enjoy the beauty and purity of nature, the richness of its landscape and its neighborhoods wilderness and associate with local people and their cultures both old and contemporary and learn from their range of activities related to surrounding environment, such as: exploring the mountains, forests, and valleys, watching birds, contemplation on nature, holding camps, watching coral reefs, fishing, crossing deserts in caravans of camels, living with rural environments, watching traditional farming and animal husbandry methods, etc.
All this constitute new modes of activities attracting the tourist to explore new areas in the world. The concept of environmental and rural tourism emerged as a practical selection for enjoying the natural and cultural heritage and conserving them, at the same time. This mode of tourism has been defined as environmentally compliant picnics, visits to virgin areas for the purpose of enjoying, studying, contemplating the natural, heritage and cultural environment. This type of tourism can reflect in many forms, perhaps the most important and most prestigious are the Eco-Lodges, rural rest-houses and the Agri-lodges, which are considered as one of the products of the eco-tourism and rural or agricultural tourism.
89- What are the main principles and conditions of environmental and rural accommodation projects?
Based on what was mentioned, Eco-lodges and Agri-lodges projects can be defined as projects serving the service of environmental and rural resorts where maximum of the following conditions should be available:
- Conserving the surrounding flora and fauna
- Having minimum negative impact on the surrounding natural environment during construction periods.
- Participation of the local community in the sustainable development through their involvement in the stages (planning, implementation and operation).
- An illustrative program shall be presented through it to educate all workers and tourists of the surrounding natural and cultural environment.
- Using of traditional technologies in building as far as possible, and merging this in modern models for the purposes sustainability.
- Being in harmony with the surrounding environment through taking care of the formation and the site coordination.
- Using of sustainable alternatives and aids for obtaining water, and minimizing water wastage.
- Reusing the solid and liquid wastes and minimizing their negative effects on the environment.
- Providing needs of energy through natural means and renewable sources of energy.
However, the eco-lodge and agri-lodges should fulfill the three basic conditions of environmental and rural tourism which are: conserving surrounding environment, physical benefit to local society, building interaction between the local environment, tourists and workers).
90- What is the difference between environmental inns and rural rest houses?
It is very difficult, theoretically and practically, to find clear difference between environmental inns and rural rest houses as all of these are tourist products and because of their important achievements for the principles and requirements of rural, ecotourism and agricultural tourism. Similarities and differences between them could be seen in the following aspects:
- Having minimum negative impact possible on the surrounding natural environment
- Follow the old and traditional building style and material in its construction copied from the traditional old style.
- Seeks to create an integrated partnership with local communities near the project
- Based primarily on tourism activities to attract tourists to the project, and it provides mainly the accommodation services.
- Environmental inns are usually located in areas far from the urban communities in sensitive environmental areas or near natural reserved areas while rural rest houses are located in rural farms in or outside the urban outskirts.
- Environmental inns activities such as diving, mountain climbing and desert camping, etc., are done outside the project, while rural rest houses activities, such as identifying traditional ways of agriculture, irrigation , watching domestic animals and their role in the integration of rural life, as well as enjoying the rural atmospheres, etc, are mostly practiced inside the project.
- Environmental inns and rural rest houses are visited by tourists who have cultural awareness on environment's respect and necessity of being preserved. Such projects aim at enrooting principles of preservation of natural treasure and sustainability among the tourists. The environmental inns need better attention from tourists because they are built in more sensitive environmental areas compared to rest houses.
91- What are the ways through which SCTA supports investor as incentives to the Eco-lodges and Agri-lodges projects?
- Providing investor with technical directories for designing eco-lodges and agri-lodges.
- Technical support to the architectural ideas and designs of the - project presented by investor.
- Expressing views and providing advice regarding feasibility studies presented by the investor to support decision on feasibility or non-feasibility of investment.
- Facilitating obtaining of financial support through the programs presented by the following entities: The Saudi Credit Bank, Almiawya Fund, Industrial Development Fund, Kafal Program, according to the mechanism agreed upon between the Commission and the supporting parties.
- Implementing suitable training programs directed towards investors in these projects whether for the project owners or the workers through direct coordination with the Human Resources Development program of the Commission and through benefitting from what is presented by the supporting parties in the field of supporting training.
- Uon completion of the project it will be added to the tourist tracks and programs.
- Upon completion of the project it will be among the marketing campaigns launched by the Commission.
92- What are the tourism GIS, and how far SCTA benefits from them?
They constitute a program that organizes the tourist sites and places them on a digital map to know the relative position of the tourist sites with other sites. They help decision makers to develop them by connecting them with the other cities, services and sites as each tourist site has fixed coordinates and one description and picture.
93- How does the Commission look to level of tourism awareness in the Saudi society?
Tourism awareness is correlated to several factors including the scientific and cultural levels. No doubt, the wise leadership of the kingdom and the higher directors of the country have ushered in the movement of civilization and culture, and created a national awareness covering the factors of growth including tourism.:So we can dare say: Tourism awareness represents the highest degrees of national awareness, and the Commission finds that it is going up, and this can be known through several indications ,such as: information movement and dealing with the tourist facilities, and intensive presence and influence of the tourism events.
94- Is Tourism a major source of life and diversity in the eyes of the Saudi society?
Tourism began to mobilize increasing public opinion recently crystallizing faith in the cultural diversity of the kingdom, and indicating that its international presence does not stem from its great position on the religious and economic level only, and that there are other gains for the nation, including diversity in the various aspects of life in the Kingdom. Tourism has revealed the course made by this opinion as demand of tourism in its different environments in the kingdom, the media coverage of it, and the repeated praise of its diversity. All of this emphasize that tourism is one of the main sources of diversity and development.
95- How does Commission look to foreign tourism?
SCTA never underestimates the international efforts in the field of tourism, and it benefits from its experiences and programs. But the Commission confirms that the Saudi tourism one of the largest areas of international marketing in tourism. Hence and the Commission sets up its several tourism attraction programs and plans so that the internal tourism becomes the main option of the Saudi tourist. SCTA’s program in its present stage is not designed to openness on the entry of foreign tourism to the Kingdom for numerous reasons, and perhaps most important are that the citizens and expatriate residents as being its niche focus.
96- Is domestic tourism exclusive to particular seasons?
Domestic tourism does not specialize to any specific seasons but it is open for different seasons. This does not conflict the fact that tourism becomes more active in some seasons particularly in the seasons of specific holidays. The Commission sets up intensive programs to invest the vacations and holidays in a way that benefits the activation of tourism. This administrative view has led to great successes and opened fields of partnership with public and private sector in a wide organized way.
97- Does the Commission organize programs and activities to enhance tourism awareness of the citizen?
The Commission sets up a large number of programs of enhancing tourism awareness through the general meetings, media programs, books and pamphlets. And also through presenting the tourism products in a professional manner whcih has reflected on citizen and his tourism awareness.
98- Are there significant developments in the growth of tourism awareness in the community?
It seems that the expression of having remarkable development in the tourism awareness does not reflect the reality because tourism movement in the kingdom is supported by the wise leadership. The Commission presented a huge national project, and it planned for a number of frames, programs and projects, and a number of the concerned parties participated in the Commission's activities. Therefore, there is a very large boom within this frame represented in the qualitative shit witnessed by tourism, and in the discussion, acceptance and interaction. This encourages the Commission to support this trend to reach to other categories in the society.
99- How does the Commission invest fields of cooperation with various parties within dual agreements in enhancing tourist awareness?
The Commission set up its orientation programs and implemented them through the several partnerships. The Commission adopts frame of the programs disseminated through various sectors such as the students sector. A number of programs were implemented with the Ministry of Education by investing the large category supervised by the ministry.
100- What are the most prominent programs presented by the Commission to enhance the tourist culture?
Here, you can refer to a number of programs such as:
- “Smile” program.
- “Tourism Enriches" program.
- Rules of tourist behavior.
- Program of "Leave No Trace"
Also publishing of "Tirhal" magazine, Tourism & Antiquities Pamphlet and some published materials which enhance tourist culture and positive connection with different mass media.
101- What are the most prominent elements of tourist behavior acknowledged by the SCTA?
SCTA did not adopt different behavioral patterns other than what was agreed upon by different people of the land. Tourism with other activities such as visiting, travel, meetings shows the existence of good and strong entity on the importance of maintaining the tourist gains as well as understanding and respect for social values, and finding a social model in which all members respect the various tourist options, within the frame of the state's laws and principles.
102- Does SCTA focus on specific category in the society in developing the tourist culture?
SCTA Open the window to communicate with various segments of society, and benefits from the insights of beneficiaries in general, but may place regulatory frameworks specialized for the benefit of experts and specialists, as well as benefit from the insights that have been circulating in the media.
103- What are the major features of “Leave No Trace” program?
Tourist centers are of great attention to SCTA. So it is betting heavily on maintaining their properties, and exerts diligence in their growth and development. This has led to offering the “Leave No Trace” program, which is directed towards the users of onshore and offshore areas in educating them on the the finest methods and ethical behavior that ensure maintenance of tourist sites, in keeping with the vision of national tourism, and on the religious principles which urges for maintaining the cleanliness and the environment. In order to achieve these objectives, SCTA has propounded through this program most appropriate ways that never interfere with the tourists inspiration to achieve their goals.
104- What are the most remarkable features of “Tourism Enriches” Program?
Among the several activities of the tourist culture adopted by the Commission, there is the program (Tourism Enriches) which is presented through a large number of awareness, educational and training programs adopted by the Commission after monitoring the level of tourism awareness in the Kingdom and its most important factors supporting this. Based on this, the program is targeted towards the community leaders and its members in order to present tourism as an industry with economic, social and cultural, dimensions, consolidate thee positive concepts, and help community members to focus their efforts in developing themselves through investment of their capabilities.
105- What are the most remarkable features of the “Smile” program?
This program enacts the strong partnership between the Commission and Ministry of Education, in order to coordinate efforts of all entities and individuals to develop tourist activity and nationalize it, and to provide the incubating and supporting environment to it. A number of activities and events have been implemented within this program. This program has received Julius Award for Innovation provided by the World Tourism Organization.
106- Have the effects produced by these tourist programs been studied?
SCTA tracks research and study to evaluate its experience in tourist education due to its awareness of the importance of continuous self-assessment and on the basis of the condition of functionality that is approved by the Commission in the necessity of the continuous growth and upgrading of its systems, programs and activities. In addition, it looks seriously to all views, suggestions and criticism offered by the tourists, intellectuals and media towards that through different mass media or through workshops, discussion opened by the Commission and made available to all on a regular basis.
107- What are the types of brochures issued by the Commission
Media field in the Commission is active on several fronts, including: Publications and releases which take multiple shapes, such as:
- Brochures which define the importance of tourism and types of programs and activities.
- Statistical publications such as: Tourism Observer or Tourism in Figures.
- Guiding publications such as: tourist maps for all regions of the Kingdom.
- Procedural publications such as: Tourist Service Directories.
- Investment publications, such as study tour operators and Umra trips operators,
- Tourism enterprises and survey project of assessing and controlling the implementation of the general strategy objectives.
- Educational and scientific publications, such as: the study of the tourism industry constraints and solutions and resolutions, measures for monitoring and implementation of the objectives of the General Strategy
- Magazines such as: Tirhal and the Saudi Voyager
108- How does Commission open fields of connection with its people?
The Commission provides different levels of connection with the public such as:
- Tourist information centers.
- Website of the Commission.
- Tourism communication center.
- Tourism branches at all areas.
- Contact at the number 8007550000 round the clock.
SCTA also establishes a main principle which is adopted by all of its employees, and this is the principle which makes connection with the public an objective one. Accordingly, Commission employees commit to continuously contact with all visitors and tourists.
109- What are the most prominent features of the higher strategies of the Commission in the field of tourism marketing?
The higher vision of the tourism marketing is based on the belief that the Kingdom is rich with many heritage sites with distinctive tourist importance at the level of religious, historical, cultural or recreational richness, and it needs collective marketing efforts to promote it, and to take its tourist experience to all people.
110- What are the main objectives of tourist marketing, and are they restricted to domestic tourist?
The objective of tourist marketing is not restricted to domestic tourist, and it extends to both domestic and foreign tourist, and it leaves its effect on the concept of tourism and its growth. Tourist marketing focuses on supporting the domestic tourism and contributes to opening projects of tourist development including the marketing programs for supporting the national tourism. The several programs presented by the Commission for tourist marketing will lead to a direct result represented in an increase of the average stay and expenditure, number of tourist journeys, rate of occupancy of the accommodation organizations, stopping seasonal nature, making tourism fruitful on continuous basis around the year, contribution towards sustainability of tourist demand and investment, enhancing partner sales, developing their products and promoting them. These objectives are achieved through the cultural and legal awareness of them, and they are implemented within partnership with the private sector.
111- Can all tourist elements in the Kingdom be marketed?
Modern concept of tourism is based on investing the prominent tourist elements and offering new touristic models. The Commission believes that the tourist options and the marketing services he requires are variable. Therefore, the Commission finds in all available elements a field of development and marketing, and they also enhance the standard of attraction.
112- How does SCTA focus on value of diversity for the sake of tourist marketing?
Diversity in the categories of tourists and visitors imposes diversity in tourist elements such as the services provided for them. This in turn, has led to diversity in the fields of tourist marketing. The Commission focuses on value of diversity and richness in the Saudi tourism as one of the main factors in the Saudi tourist experience, as the tourist is able to live several tourist experiences within the same geographical condition, and on this basis the Saudi product is marketed.
113- Does citizen stand as an effective element in marketing and tourism production?
The main principle of the Commission is to implement the programs and activities through method of partnership with the citizen and the government entities and private sector. The citizen is the cornerstone of this route. The Commission waits for him to play his national role in developing the national tourism. In doing so, the Commission provides for him various ways for performing his national role or for contribution through investment in tourist marketing as he is more aware of his country gains.
114- What are the new ideas constituent in the field of tourism marketing?
The Commission is always ready to offer various and new experiences, but emphasizes to confirm to the higher principles, such as continuous tourism production. This track is shared by all of its sectors, in order for applying the principle of re-production and recycling the tourism. The tourist product is invested in it in various forms in permanent ways. This product does not keep to its elementary state, but is subjected to continuous development and study, and all its elements are exhausted to be offered again.
115- Does business sector accept the Saudi tourism product?
Saudi tourism market is a wide and profitable market, and the businessmen accept in an increasing way. The economic movement, growth of tourism awareness, and multiplicity of the tourists in addition to all international circumstances are all means which contribute in increasing acceptance to tourist product.
116- How does SCTA conduct marketing through higher systems, through meetings of the people specialized in international tourism?
The Commission organizes the programs and activities which encourage marketing and tourist investment such as the meetings of travel and tourism, joint tourist program established by the Commission in association with the large marketing companies in the private sector. These ideas and other similar ones directly contribute in the routes of tourism such as orientation, education, training, qualification, marketing and investment. The Commission passed an ideal experience in this context.
117- Does the Commission focus on principle of gradual work in tourist marketing?
Tourist activity is considered as cumulative activity performed by the institutions and systems, and for which individuals work actively. It is an activity of wide national nature, and it is not subjected to casual individual discretions and cannot be performed by untrained capabilities or non trained individuals. So, the Commission has set up gradual organizational frames through which ideas and projects move from one stage to the other steadily in a way that enhances its projects and leads it to be aware of its strategy, and provides it with change to be assessed by the concerned persons.
118- Are there administrative and media programs and frames for marketing heritage villages, festivals and others?
SCTA works for transfer of work from its traditional framework to the professional organizational framework. Therefore, it tries in the heritage events and festivals to find a financial source contributing in development of the local societies in the provinces, cities and villages. And to activate the tourist mode in the villages and festivals, and to strengthen sprit of solidarity among its individuals through development of services which encourage tourist investment. The program started presently to develop five villages at: Algatt, Alolla, Wajba, Zi Ain and Rijal Alma'
119- Does the tourist product contribute to provision of jobs for Saud citizens?
Tourism is seen as an important source of employment for citizens where tourism’s different activities provide various opportunities for jobs. SCTA enhances tourism jobs Saudization as well as encourages different sectors of the society to engage in tourism activity.
120- Is there higher planning in which the Commission participates for organizing holidays and vacations according to tourism directions?
All the concerned entities participate in setting up the general recommendations of the main holidays and vacations in the Kingdom, which are: Eid Alfitr and Eid Aladhha. As for the summer holiday of the schools, it lasts for 3 months. The holidays of Eid Alfitr, Eid Aladhha and mid-term school holidays covered in the remaining part of the year. The 23rd of September every year is the National Day of the Kingdom as it is the anniversary of the unification of the Kingdom under the name of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and it is an official holiday.
121- What is the concept of tourist on which tourism in the Kingdom focus?
The Kingdom sets up its products and activities according to national and strategic priorities. The Saudi tourist is the first target as we believe in his right to knowing achievements of his country and its history. In addition to that, Saudi tourist represents a main category after which the world tourist programs are running. This attention paid to Saudi tourist does not contradict with setting of a Saudi route through which activity is prepared for world tourism by launching the electronic visa system in association with the Ministry of Interior and Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and through which tourist visa is awarded to some selected categories of foreign tourists to visit the tourist sites in the Kingdom.
122- Are the tourist events covering all types of sport and the recreational sports accepted in the society?
There are natural tourist modes related to desert, sea, mountains and the likes, and there is a creative tourism connected with all types of sports. The Commission has, in association with the concerned systems, allotted a tourist route concerned with activating these modes and enacting them within the multiple tourist programs in the various areas and seasons.
123- Are there specialties in which tourist events can be activated according to regions, cities and seasons?
The Commission as an extension of the environment, geography and culture, sets up the programs, events and activities to reflect activity of the citizen, in which citizen and tourist in general finds privacy and special nature of the place. This provides wide fields to represent the areas, cities and seasons in various tourist routes. The sea environment makes the activities derived from it in a direct reflection of the SCTA’s vision in various areas and seasons.
124- How does tourist know in details the tourist events and elements in every area?
The Commission sends its media messages through all available mass media, and it does not use any one media and leave the others. It sets a media vision to be adopted by the its agencies in all regions in terms of enacting the tourist information and news to get to the concerned category. The audience presence of the events and its increasing trend proved success of the Commission in its vision. Besides, SCTA has set up a periodic increasing growth rate which it must achieve. This way the Commission looks to its previous achievements as first step and it builds on their continuous successes.
125- Are the hobbies of photography in tourist places made available to the tourist?
Photography is a moment full of emotion and recording the beautiful times such as tourism. In addition to that, it is also an international hobby which is rapidly growing. Therefore, the Commission encourages it specially after the regulatory system agreed to organize photography in public places.
126- Has the Commission invested in latest technology in enhancing the domestic tourism?
SCTA believes that the concept of tourism varies continuously through the continuous international developments. Therefore, its organizational programs took the technical dimension by offering pure technical visions and programs that adopt internet in conveying its message or use of the technical product among the tourist means and routes. The widely expanding systems which uses Bluetooth as a means of transfer of information and tourist guidance is one of the means of technology adopted by the Commission in this context. Touch screens available in the airports is also one of the means of neo technology adopted.
127- Will the tourist product be marketed through horizons of internet network?
The contemporary international competition in various fields occurs in different places through effective presence of internet sites, and this is a fact with which tourism programs and activities deal with utmost seriousness. Therefore, the Commission’s site was provided with sure and revolving detailed information on the Commission’s activities which lead browser to find the full answer to his enquiries.
128- How do businessmen and establishments and investment sector deal with the means of technology to enhance their projects?
The tourist product is marketed through the network by providing all information about it, providing several tourist options and discounted offers, and setting mechanisms of connection to facilitate benefiting from services.
129- Does a plain tourist benefit from means of technology to know the Commission projects, activities and general centers?
Internet started to have its presence at various levels. Therefore, tourism got its main share from this service. People started to allot a good part of their times to know the tourist services offered. Commission and the concerned party must provide the general services on the net, and to provide it in the easy way.
130- What are the services which the Commission website provides on the internet?
SCTA offers on its site all the services which it provides directly, and this covers the systems, procedures, models, announcements, systems, festivals, ceremonies and contact numbers. The Commission also puts serious development plans of the website to become ideal model of the government and service sites.
131- Can tourists finalize their procedures at the travel and tourism agencies level through the website?
Yes. This is an important priority for all persons dealing with travel and tourism agencies in a way that all procedures can be made through the internet. This does not conflict with good openness in the centers that provide services and their various branches.
Festivals and Events:
132- Is there any administrative organization issued by SCTA for organizing events of ceremonies and coordination between their times?
The Commission sets up general organizational frames which contribute to enhancing the tourism movement and upgrading fields of coordination between festivals and ceremonies. For the sake of this, it does not set up systems which may lead to weak performance or delay, because it knows that the regions and cities of the Kingdom have got their absolute uniqueness. Ceremonies invest the days of holiday and vacations, and this way they all participate in its activities. So the Commission works hard though the senior management and tourism bodies in the regions by setting incentive frames for the activities, and so that connection is made among them for benefit of all.
133- What are features of diversity in tourist festivals and ceremonies?
Tourism in the Kingdom is based on the value of diversity, so it is not strange that one of the principles of festivals and ceremonies organized in the Kingdom is diversity which is an environmental and technical condition and not only administrative condition. Therefore, we find in one festival or ceremony a number of coastal options according to what is provided by capabilities of this or that festival and according to the tourist vision acknowledged and supported by the Commission. This has led festivals and ceremonies to have an increasing audience, visitors and tourists from various regions of the Kingdom. Some visitors and tourists showed commitment to attend some festivals and ceremonies, and a number of these festivals have become a main option for the Saudi family.
134- Are there international festivals in which states or representatives participate in the Kingdom?
There are festivals and ceremonies organized by the Kingdom in its various establishments and sectors which witness several participations by countries of the Arab Gulf, Arabic world and Western world. There are also journeys and tourist programs organized by the Commission in which states and individuals from various cultures and nationalities participate.
135- Is there a vision for assigning festivals and ceremonies in regions and provinces of the Kingdom to be distinct from each other?
This happens in the Saudi tourist festivals and ceremonies through factors of environment and history in them. There are tourist modes which are specialized, for environmental conditions –at types of sea or plant types, or they are connected with desert activities or others, yet the Commission does not cancel or restrict a natural trend of any festival, and it even works to give independent identity so that its tourism fruits become of competitive regional dimension. This does not contradict with the trend that the Commission supports by providing festivals and ceremonies through diversity, variety and multiplicity in its activities and programs.
136- Are there cultural programs within the frames of tourist festivals and ceremonies?
Tourist festivals and ceremonies are composed of a package of various programs. If the recreational, definitive and service programs constitute significant portion, cultural programs in their general concept is a main component among components of tourist festivals and ceremonies, in addition to the fact that the tourism is a great cultural concept depicted by its multiple routes.
137- Are the festivals and ceremonies allotted at specific seasons?
Some festivals are connected with special seasons linked with them at time level such as: festivals of holidays but SCTA sets up tourism routes which generalize tourist interest to be inclusive and not restricted to a time or place. Also the Commission intensifies the activities in the seasons of high tourist activity, and adds to them programs giving them wider range in terms of time and place.
138- How does the Commission deal with local festivals with old heritage history?
Conserving the historical depth of tourism is one of the main principles of the Commission. Therefore SCTA looks at the festivals with glorious historical balance as a national gain which shall be conserved, developed and qualified. So, the plans and studies that guarantee growth of tourist activity are set up through these two routes: Historical factor and tourist preparation. We can point out to efforts of the Commission among other institutions in retaking care of Okaz historical festival.
139- What are the mechanisms of attraction and marketing adopted by the Commission for marketing of the festivals and ceremonies?
The festivals and ceremonies gain their glory from several factors, the most important among which are diversity and availability of services. These are standards on which Commission focuses, and which it adopts to assess the activity, licensing and support by considering these standards as part of the guarantees that contributes to marketing of the tourist product, whether in festivals, ceremonies and others. This is assured in the festivals and ceremonies through its open public nature where there is need for diversity that leads all to find their interests and find their suitable services.
140- Does the Commission encourage taking care of the traditional handicrafts and industries?
The handicraft and traditional industries represent an economic style of high value. So, it is one of the remarkable tourist destinations in various cultures. The traditional handicrafts and industries constitute great richness in the Kingdom according to geographical and cultural diversity in them. More than 20 thousand craftsmen have been found working in about 45 groups of handicraft industries. This has led the Commission to launch the national project for developing manual handicrafts and industries to perform the function of reviving the handicrafts and industries. This project made several successes, and the national strategy for handicrafts and industries development was established. In addition to that, development courses were held in this field.
Antiquities and Museums:
141- What are the most remarkable archeological sites in the Kingdom?
The Kingdom’s land is a large theatre for many old civilizations, and they are, with their fixed and movable types represent the historical depth of man and his culture, and they can be classified as follows:
- Islamic sites, which cover whatever is related to Islamic civilization.
- The world archeological sites such as Madain Saleh.
- Architectural sites such as old Jeddah and Al Dir’iyah.
- The archeological castle such as: Alzarib, Alwaji, Almwailih, Alazlam, Shamsan, Darin, Tarut, Almuazam, Tabuk.
- Tourist sites which can be linked to past events, such as: Al Thumama, Al Aflaj, Um-al-Dhamiran, Islamic Mabian, Khaif Alzahra, Zubaida, Badiat Bani Amru, Al Okhdud, Al Abla, Bir Hama, Al Rajajil, Al Gara, Al Rabza, Jabal Al Luz, Taima and others.
142- Do these sites represent a value at levels with international antiquities?
The historical and cultural depth of the Kingdom has led it to be a focus of concern of the Arab, Islamic and world countries through various objectives such as the historical, archeological and constructional aspects. It’s discovered antiquities and construction stand as incentive for reading and taking care by specialist though the movement of exploring, search and mining is still active in the Kingdom, and the Kingdom coordinates between the concerned parties in this context.
143- Has international registration been made for Kingdom’s antiquities in UNISCO?
Movement of recording the sites through higher vision to openness of the Kingdom to world civilization and effective entry in the international society are active through the historical common areas through the state's systems and principles. The first Saudi site was registered in the International Heritage List of UNISCO, was Madain Saleh. This was in Rajab in 1429H (2008G), and there are two sites nominated to be added to the list, and these are: Old Dir’iyah, and Old Jeddah. Related administrative procedures have started in this concern.
144- Are there archeological sites which are competitive internationally at the level of history?
We can point out to a number of sites such as: Al Okhdud, Al Faw, Wajba, Al Ula, Old Jeddah, Old Dir’iyah and others. These represent competitive archeological environments, and they can be reproduced, and invested for tourism. For this the Commission sets up several plans and programs, and work is still continuing in rehabilitating these sites in order to perform administrative procedures related to registering them in the International Heritage List.
145- What are the Islamic antiquities in the Kingdom?
The Islamic antiquities in the Kingdom represent main face of antiquities of Islam. It is the cradle and first home of Islam, so the first movement of Islam between Makkah and Madina, then the strong launch of spreading it is the first incubator of Islam in which the archeological landmarks are formed. The Commission is guided by principles of the state in dealing with heritage and safeguarding it. There is also a scientific route which scientists and researchers in the Kingdom have started and SCTA has supervised its growth and continuation by studying the geographical, archeological and historical landmarks in the Kingdom through religious texts and provisions.
146- What about modern discoveries movement of antiquities in the Kingdom?
Movement of archeological survey in the Kingdom moves through efforts of the scientific, technical and administrative entities in the Commission and the universities, in addition to efforts of researchers. The Kingdom still has a historical depth that promises with different and revolving discoveries, especially with the fact that the historical texts indicate that there are large scopes not yet discovered and routs which still needs exploring. Therefore, the Commission puts future expansion plans in services, and in the field of researches and studies to rectify previous defects.
147- Have the historical sites mentioned in the Islamic Arabian heritage been utilized?
SCTA implement its tourist plans through deep belief in the value of heritage without looking to its identity. However, when its identity and its historical and cultural elements are related to Islamic religion, it will have higher importance and care. The Commission has early and urgently taken care of monitoring landmarks of the Islamic heritage in the Kingdom, and it was guided with the way of the State- May Allah safeguard it – for dealing with the Islamic antiquities by being strict in stopping any assault or distortion against them. In this concern, the Royal decree was issued on 14/4/1429H with a great support and follow up by tourism Commission. It decides upon the matter of offending the sites of Islamic heritage, assigns the Commission to count all sites of Islamic heritage in Holy Makkah and Al Madina Al Munawara, stops all kinds of offenses against all sites including mosques, and it assigns the Commission to work with the concerned parties in relation to the archeological aspect, and with some mosques which have their religious, spiritual, constructional and historical value.
148- How does SCTA deal with the religious opinions which are against taking care of antiquities?
The Commission does not implement special agenda which society does not know, and it observes, assesses and plans for the tourist and archeological activity through the State's principles and decisions. The State –May Allah Support It- assigned the field of tourism and antiquities to an official organization which is aware of the country’s principles and works for sake of safeguarding its gains within the framework of Shari'a principles. Attention by the Commission takes place within several frames such as: guidance related to value of this heritage, controlling improper practices, finding persons to guide all people and define sites and explain their value, and controls. This will guarantee for us safeguarding country’s gains, restricting improper practices and strengthening the realistic and deep understanding of the great values in the Islamic history.
149- Are there ideal models which indicate care paid by the Commission?
SCTA does not believe that there is a limit for services and education, so we can point out to distinctive and diversified tourist models which the Commission has led to reach its current level, and the wheel of development, marketing and investment is still going on. Some of these are: seasonal festivals in the areas, the Red Sea Development Project, contribution in Okaz market, the region museums and Al Dir’iyah, and registering Madain Saleh within the International Heritage List.
150- Are the tourist services available in the archeological and heritage places?
Provision of services goes through the comprehensive development plans of the archeological and heritage places as these are integrated projects of the places according to their importance and priority. The development plans moves in progression, and there are several sites implemented and have become qualified to receive the tourists and visitors, and they started practicing its natural role.
151- Have the international experiences in taking care of antiquities been utilized?
The international tourist experience integrates among them, and the Gulf, Arabian and international meetings are held to exchange experiences, opinions and plans and to assess the experiences, and this is what the Commission seeks, and it prepares, discusses, studies and offers the Saudi experience in them. In all that it benefits from the march of others who have had experience in the tourist activities. But all this shall be according to the religious, national and social prospective in a way that achieves benefit to the country and citizen.
152- How does the Commission take care of the scientific research route and the tourist route in taking care of the antiquities?
Tourism and antiquities do not constitute a muscular activity free of its scientific dimensions. It is a fruit and result of a large number of studies, discoveries and surveys and this is what the Commission takes care of and establishes through the research centers, symposium and researches which it provides or requires through the several dual agreements whose conditions are put by the Commission. SCTA may provide a large number of studies and researches in the fields of tourism and antiquities in relation to its projects and plans. The Commission even took care of futures science through the ideas, visions and studies which are specialized in the horizons of future tourism work in the Kingdom.
153- What about the museums and the archeological items in the Kingdom?
In the Kingdom with its different areas and provinces there is a museum wealth specialized in antiquities, and it is variable according to nature and quality of the museum contents like sections and items or according to the party which supervises the museum. According to these divisions, museums in the Kingdom are divided into the following:
- Museums affiliated to antiquities and museums sector at the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities such as the: National Museum in Riyadh.
- Museums affiliated to universities and institutes such as the Museum of King Saud University.
- There are also the specialized museums and the regional museums in all areas of the Kingdom, in addition to the private archeological and heritage museums.
154- What are the features of plan of development and expansion in the museums sector?
There are plans for five new museums financed by the state, in Dammam, Asir, Tabuk and Albaha, and for the first time, new museums are established after a gap of some years, in addition to establishing 7 new museums constructed in the historical palaces such as Al Badi'a palace in Riyadh.
There is an integrated program for developing 11 existing museums, in addition to plan of developing King Abdulaziz museum or Holy Quran House in Madina which will be the most important museum and Holy Quran center in the world. It is a museum for displaying the old mushafs (Quran books), mushaf technologies, recitation halls and the large rare collections.
155- Where is the position of the private and personal museums among matrix of museums in the Kingdom?
There are five support programs from Almiawiya fund and others for owners of special museums. Also licenses were issued for more than 34 private museums. This means that these museums commit to their obligations, responsibilities and procedures which must be taken, matters must be provided and services which must be offered. For instance, these museums must commit to specific times for opening and closing, procedures taken against fire, and taking care of the registration of pieces and others.
156- What is meant by urban heritage?
This refers to whatever is constructed by man such as cities, villages, areas, buildings and gardens of archeological, constructional, economic, scientific or cultural value. Its classifications covers the heritage buildings including their decorations and the related furniture as well as the constructional heritage areas such as cities, villages and areas of their historical, archeological and social importance with all of their constructional network, public yards and roads.
157- What are the most prominent models of built heritage in the Kingdom?
Here we can point to models of built heritage with its various shapes in the Kingdom such as palaces, villages, wells, castles, fortifications and others such as: Al Dir’riyah, Al Masmak palace, Shubra, Al Murabba', Al Saggaf, Khuza, Bait Nasif, Al Ula, Al Ebhda, Aeirif castle, heritage market of Al Majlis, Amara palace in Al Ras and Caf at Al Jouf, Alsi'ari, Al Haditha, Umal-Ajras village. These are models reflecting the constructional richness in the Kingdom in a way representing various geographical area, and various historical stages.
158- Are there scientific qualifications which the Commission invests in the constructional affair?
In its various tourist routes, the Commission builds advanced experience houses and research centers. This way it assigns the stages of study and planning to its experts who are specialized in these fields. It also announces for its projects and plans in architectural heritage and others after finishing the stages of monitoring, induction, study and analysis, and it also issues detailed memos for its decisions and its administrative vision of its plans.
159- How does the Commission look to tourist aspect in the built heritage?
Tourist plans and programs of the Commission pay great attention to fields of constructional activity as one of the main tourist destinations in the Kingdom. They have emotional dimension through the deep feeling of the citizen towards the heritage national symbols. For this purpose, the Commission has drawn the plans, set up the studies and supported the prizes in this field. It also supported establishment of centers and private and institutional societies for conserving constructional heritage.
160- How does the Commission deal with the private properties which are considered within the general concept of the urban heritage?
The constructional heritage is considered as a natural and historical extension of the citizen. Therefore, citizen is a main partner in caring for it and conserving it. As a package of the private properties, the Commission has set up a balanced organizational frames for supporting it, for facilitating its means of maintenance, renovation, and conserving from the environmental effects and others. The Commission also sets up systems that give the citizen the chance to denote or to put his properties under supervision of the Commission. Moral right of Person of private ownership is completely saved, and the Commission believes in a national value which is summarized in the importance of conserving the country’s properties and gains, and participation of all in this effort.
161- Are there higher strategies for dealing with built national heritage?
The Commission conducts its programs according to a higher strategy which targets the enhancement of the tourist work in relation to the fields of architectural heritage through setting up the regulations and legislations that contribute to control of the mechanisms of dealing with constructional heritage and help in procedures of coordination among all concerned parties and setting up the scientific and technical specifications of the antiquities and constructional heritage. This was finalized by establishing specialized companies to take care of the architectural heritage in all of its features including renovation and maintenance, in addition to setting up programs for conserving constructional heritage from natural risks and environmental disasters. This is operated through national capabilities, and this is the natural context of the SCTA’s projects, as the Saudi tourism and its programs are marketed by Saudi hands.
Are there Royal decisions
for the implementation of
some of which relate to
SCTA prepares its tourism plans based on the general vision and ideals of the State. For this purpose, several Royal resolutions were issued by the State, according to what the Commission has submitted. Like for example, a decision to stop removal of any heritage building without the coordination and consent with the Commission. This is to enhance the protection and preservation of monuments and architectural heritage in the Kingdom.
163- What are the steps adopted by SCTA to motivate citizens to own up the conservation of urban heritage?
SCTA attempts to enhance the sense of value of citizen and his awareness of patriotism. It believes that, the national assets are better preserved by its nationals themselves. Hence it has developed several programs and plans to promote the awareness of citizen on the achievements of his homeland, as a true representation of his history, culture and affiliation to the homeland as a living proof though the interaction between him and his environment. It believes that he must protect it and conserve it, in the same way he projects his lineage and antecedents. In this pursuit, SCTA has opened up several avenues so that citizen can contribute through them towards the safeguarding of his architectural heritage by knowing it, informing others about it, maintaining it and reporting of any damage or theft done to it.
What kind of effort that citizen should be making to
conserve the urban heritage?
SCTA attempts to enhance the value of citizen and his awareness of patriotism. It believes that, assets of a nation are better preserved by its nationals. Hence it has developed several programs and plans to promote awareness of citizen on the achievements of his homeland, as a true representation of his history, culture and belonging, and a living proof of the interaction between him and his environment. He must take care of it and conserve it, same as he does for his lineage and anticident. SCTA has opened several avenues so that citizen can contribute through them towards safeguarding his architectural heritage by knowing it, informing others about it, maintaining it and reporting of any damage or theft done to it.