His Excellency Mr. Ahmed Al Khateeb
SCTA has adopted the approach of effective partnership with the public and private sectors and the public society since its establishment as a successful mechanism to attain the objectives of tourism development. Whereas the council has adopted this approach in its fifth session in (1423 AH) under the presidency of His Royal Highness the Crown Prince, Deputy Prime Minister (then the Chairman of the Board of Directors).
The Commission has released many initiatives in this regard. The foremost important of such initiatives is the co-operation agreements done with the ministries, government agencies, heads of provinces, and the private sector where (58) cooperation agreements have been signed (to date). Additionally, the establishment of organizational entities to manage tourism development in the provinces and some regions.
After more than a decade has passed since the establishment of the SCTA and its concrete achievements in developing the organizational structures to manage tourism on both the national and provincial levels, the role of the SCTA shall cope with the positive transformations the sector has witnessed in the provinces. The most important transformation being the wide acceptance of national tourism as an economical sector that contributes to providing job and investment opportunities to citizens in all over Saudi Arabia.
The SCTA’s approach, asserted by the General Strategy for the Development of National Tourism and executive action plans, aims to reduce its role as a central government organization by time, in order for local administrations to gradually take charge of tourism development and the SCTA’s role would stay as an organizer and motivator of tourism development in general and as a main source of knowledge and specialized expertise.
"Tamkeen” occupies the priority in the SCTA’s action plan in the coming three years as a tool to activate the concept of decentralization in tourism management, to transform the many roles that the SCTA performs to PTOs, to stimulate the spirit of competition among them in order to benefit from the resources and assets distinguishable in every region and province, and what domestic tourism offers to the provinces such as added value, income, as well as job and investments opportunities.
About the Program:
- “Tamkeen” is a long-term strategic initiative launched lately by the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities to support the potentials of the partners in the provinces (public and private sectors, educational institutions, local communities...etc) for the purpose of enabling them to lead the process of tourism development and benefit from it. Also, to give them the opportunity to manage their own provinces and to perform a higher role in the future within the geographic and organizational framework of the region.
- The concept of “Tamkeen” is not new to the activities of SCTA. In fact, it is a part of its former and current plans. The SCTA has accomplished substantial improvement in this regard in many provinces; however, the program mainly aims to transform the interest in answering (why should we develop tourism in the regions?) to (How can we develop tourism under a local leadership in the regions?). This can be achieved by reinforcing the programs and existing projects and adding new programs and projects to the general framework and main scopes of “Tamkeen”.
- The following diagram illustrates the theoretical relationship between the existing situation and what the SCTA aims to achieve through “Tamkeen”.
Objectives of the Initiative:
1. To build knowledge and transfer experience and expertise to the partners in the provinces.
2. Information and database development the provincial level.
3. Highlight the distinctive elements of each province in terms of its climate and geographical nature, heritage and culture and cultural diversity with a view to support domestic tourism.
4. Establish a climate of competition between the provinces based on their components and features.
5. Facilitate access to diversified funding resources.
6. Promote awareness of the economic importance of tourism as a generator of jobs and investment opportunities.
Program execution depends on four axes basis, objects of building knowledge and expertise, administrative and financial empowerment, increase the ability of excellence and competition, and finally the decentralization of the management of tourism and national cultural heritage. These axles collectively work to promote and support the efforts of local tourism management areas in tourism development, under the supervision and stimulation of SCTH, and follow up of the tourism development councils in the regions, and direct implementation partners.
Through the main axels mentioned above, develop and expansion the integration mechanisms with partners involved in tourism development and protection of the national cultural heritage and its development in the regions at different administrative levels. Joint action in key areas, such as planning, tourism product development, sensitizing, training, d rehabilitation of heritage resources protection and development, and marketing investment, operation and management of sites and tourist destinations.
Ø Knowledge Building (expertise and experience transference):
Over the past ten years, SCTH developed technical knowledge, specialized expertise and rich experiences in all aspects of tourism development, and protection and development of national heritage. In this sense, “Tamkeen” includes enabling the promotion of that knowledge, experience and expertise and transfer them to the regions through various means, in particular the usual communication tools available to the beneficiaries.
This scope includes providing all information and data, and the tourist and heritage studies and research available in SCTH through the Tourism Information and Research Centre (MAS) and its sectors, and the backlog of organizational information fathered through survey of successful experiences worldwide and numerous studies and research carried out by the Commission.
Through empowerment, it is possible for capacity building and transfer of specialized knowledge to partners in the regions, such as the officials in municipalities, Chambers of Commerce and Industry, educational and training institutions, engineering offices, and community.
Help program to develop and support tourism events that are sponsored by SCTH, to enable the private sector in the regions for organization and development of the tourist festivals and events with a positive return on the tourism industry in the Kingdom, alleviating seasonality by increasing the number of attractive events in non-normal seasons.
Ø Resources-(increasing administrative and financial possibilities):
Increase all available means of knowledge and instructions, studies of successful experiences, tools ready for application, and other aspects of knowledge that SCTH can provide to partners in the tourism development and management and development of heritage resources. That beside, providing access to public and private funding sources, as well as regulatory institutions established by SCTH in cooperation with partners in the regions (tourist development councils, and relevant committees).
Provide financial support to projects to communities, as well as investors, through public and private funds, to enable them to implement tourism development projects and programs, development and rehabilitation of the cultural heritage contained in the operational plans.
Cabinet decision (209) of 22/6/1430 includes a number of important recommendations concerning the development of necessary financial resources for the development of tourism in the Kingdom, including the establishment of internal tourism development companies and government lending funds participation in financing tourist projects.
Promoting small and medium enterprises, offer appropriate solutions to the obstacles facing small and medium-sized enterprises in the tourism sector, whether technical or marketing or financial constraints.
The National Project for Tourism Human Resources Development, “Takamul” contributes to raising the rates of Saudization of jobs in the tourism, antiquities, museums and urban heritage sectors by stimulating education and training. In addition, adoption of professional standards that improve the performance of the tourism industry, protection and the development of heritage, provide incentives to develop national human resources, in addition to raising awareness.
Ø Competition (excellence and lifting capacity):
This section includes providing a competitive environment between regions and provinces, which stimulates development building on the tourism and heritage components and resources of each region or province based on the content of strategies for the province, in addition to tourism identities of each region.
This section includes providing a competitive environment between regions and provinces to stimulates development based on the edge of each region or province has for its tourist and heritage resources, based on the content of strategies for areas, in addition to tourist identities for each region.
Ø Supervision (decentralization of national tourism administration):
- This section is an umbrella for the previous three hubs in terms of making sure that the program and its outcomes are in accordance with applicable government regulations, in accordance with the rules and regulations. SCTA carries out the bulk of this axis; however, a very huge part can be gradually to areas for decentralization in the management of tourism with competence and development of SCTH policies and regulations.
- The tourism system will be presented to the Council of Ministers after its approval that would lead to a greater empowerment of the partners, avoiding centralization, raising the level of performance of tourism facilities, and assuring the equality among the owners of facilities' interests and the consumers’ interests.
Tools and implementation mechanisms:
The program includes a number of tools and mechanisms to implement its objectives, including:
Providing information and relevant data.
Training and capacity-building programs and skills.
Exploratory visits to the distinct experiences.
Research studies and statistics for each region.
Curriculum and training packages.
Turnkey tools to implement major activities such as tourism planning, event planning, measuring the economic impact, and tourism promotion, etc.
Facilitate funding from Government and private lending institutions.
Support in fundraising for some activities and stimulate the participation of patrons in the main events.
Contributing to the efforts of the founding companies of tourism development in the areas and heritage hotels.
Annual awards for outstanding destinations in regions on specific agreed standards.
Establishing tourism competitiveness index level.
Setting policy and licensing criteria and classification of tourist activities, taking into account the differences between regions.
Contribute, through SCTH as a representative body in the tourist development councils in the regions, in developing plans and policies in the region, to ensure consistency with national policies and plans.
Partners in the program:
The success of the program relies on a number of partners in the regions, and they are:
Ø Tourism development councils:
The main role of the Councils, which includes two representatives from the local administrations and one from the private sector, can be summarized in determining the needs of the region in light of what has been achieved during the last period at the high level of awareness and local capacity-building, and it is through multimedia mentioned above.
Ø Provincial Municipalities:
Formulating regulations that are capable of preserving urban heritage, and raise the level of interest and its investment to develop tourism in the region and promoting investment in tourism activities through land and investment tracks on sites located at their disposal.
Ø Universities and training institutions:
Implementing education and training programs and capacity-building, in coordination with the SCTH, to provide curriculum and training packages. It is also expected that the universities do research studies on heritage tourism in the region.
Ø Industrial Chambers of Commerce:
Support marketing efforts of the region or province, and stimulate event sponsorships in the region and promote the distinctive practices, through granting awards for excellence based on specific standards that are agreed upon in coordination with the SCTH.
Ø The private sector:
Investing in tourism companies and projects, and the development of tourism products, sponsorship of events, and creating employment.
Ø Local communicates:
· Raise awareness of the importance of tourism, economically and culturally, and its roles in providing jobs and investment.
· Work through local associations to develop distinguished crafts and traditional industries in the regions, and provide an attractive environment for the tourist, depending on the values of hospitality and welcome.
· SCTA has launched a number of programs to achieve the objectives for the local communities, including:
- Tourism Education Program, “Smile”: SCTH has released this program in cooperation with the Ministry of Education, as a long-term program for gradual rooting the culture of tourism in the educational community and the families, by focusing on the educational community, as well as the family environment. An operational plan is prepared in two phases; the first included the training of trainers and teachers, and the second phase of training students in the intermediate and secondary levels.
- Tourism Enriches Program: It aims to raise awareness of the culture of tourism to promote positive effects on communities and empower those communities with available tourism infrastructure investment; guiding the capacity of individuals and communities to make the most of promising opportunities offered by tourism. Some of the main groups targeted by the program, are community leaders and managers of Government organs, charities (craftsmen – productive families), representatives of the municipal councils, interested in artisans and antiquities.
- Leave No Trace Program: SCTH is active in cooperation with a number of government agencies and private institutions, with the aim of increasing awareness of the importance of enjoying ecotourism while maintaining natural areas in the Kingdom. Protecting them from harm and negative impact of tourist infrastructure development, and stimulate positive behaviors that maintain the integrity of the environment.
- Heritage Enriches program: SCTH is currently preparing this program through a number of awareness programs, targeting educational institutions, society and some monuments, museums and architectural heritage in trades and crafts, with a view to contribute to save the national heritage sites of the Kingdome, and preserve what's left of it, as well as and turning it into an economic and cultural resource and a source of national pride.
- Thameen Initiative: It includes implementation of a number of pilot projects that reflect the development of urban heritage, and reuse in tourist activities, etc. SCTH aims to launch an investment cooperation in effective partnership between the public and private sectors in the field of tourism development in a number of projects for the rehabilitation of heritage sites.
Requirements of Success:
Recognizing the theoretical aspects of the program, its success on the ground requires attention and focus on some important aspects, including:
Ø Decentralization of a central organizational environment:
The current regulatory environment for government agencies in the Kingdom is generally centralized, thus limiting the capacity of local administration to take decisions, which is what making the task of a decentralized department of tourism at local level more difficult, requiring more support and assistance from SCTH.
Ø Enabling partners according to what they want:
In the initial phases of the program, it is required carefully to identify the regions’ requirement of multiple empowerment tools, to respond to those requirements. This requires specific empowerment programs designed for each region based on their requirements, and stay away from general solutions.
Ø Transferring the accumulated knowledge to operational means and tools:
SCTH has managed over the years to build its capacities in the area of specialized knowledge and is still able to today. However, most of this knowledge and abilities are still distributed among individuals and departments, and have not taken a form of manuals, tools ready for application. Successful knowledge transfer depends on the ability of SCTH to transform those experiences and knowledge as means everyone can benefit from.
Program’s organizational structure:
The program's success depends on the clarity of the internal organizational structure and its management. It is proposed that the associated program, being a provisional program it should be linked to the provincial sectors of the SCTH (temporarily). Since most of the tasks to be performed are concentrated in the regions and the link between SCTH and the partners in the provinces is the PTO supervised by the regional sector. Added to this, the sector was provided during the last period with an integrated network of direct relations with the local authorities, which are the most important factors in the success of the program.