With the launch of a new tourism development fund, the Saudi government plans to fuel future growth with continued funding in construction. Around the world, economies are attempting to meet the challenges of staying afloat during the COVID19 pandemic. With plans in place for people’s safe return to public spaces such as beach fronts, restaurants, retail, entertainment, and many other sites, this decision is critical to supporting economic diversification in the region.
A start-up capital fund for the tourism development fund has SAR 15 billion Riyals and will tie in local construction venders to meet the goal of building 38 tourism sites across seven locations by 2022. All will be mixed-use sites for a diverse number of activities from retail, to adventure tourism, to nature getaways. Funding will kick off the revival not only of religious tourism, but also the number of GIGA projects the government launched in 2020, before the global pandemic started.
Mecca normally hosts approximately 2.5 million pilgrims per year. With this number now reduced to only a few thousand prospective visitors, the government is evaluating how to meet its previous goal of hosting 30 million pilgrims by 2030. Continued construction will play a major role with various building projects for the hospitality industry, utilities, transportation, and road access. These include the USD 9.5 billion Al-Faisaliyah City, USD 8.7 billion Jabal al-Sharashif, and the USD 16.5 billion Shamiyah-Haramain developments.
Development of Saudi’s GIGA projects continues in order to meet the demands of future tourist traffic as borders and airspace around the world begin to open. Planned tourism construction projects are actively ongoing and worth over USD 68 billion. The building of well-publicized and highly anticipated projects, such as Amaala, Neom, and Qidiyya, are also continuing and are part of a plan to develop local tourism and provide nearby leisure opportunities for citizens and expatriates.
• Qidiyya, for example, is an entertainment centre with music, sports venues, and a Six Flags theme park to target a younger market.
• Smart tech remains a key focus in the futuristic Neom project that will line the Red Sea coast for a stretch of 460 kilometres and serve as both a residential and tourism site. Worth USD 500 billion alone, and dubbed an “accelerator of human progress,” it has city centres that host homes, workplaces, and research centres, as well as recreation for millions of people.
• Amaala, also slated as a Red Sea project, will provide ultra-luxury tourism opportunities and include the construction of three distinct communities, one for art and culture, another for athletics, health and wellness, and one for sea and lifestyle.
Saudi Arabia hopes to build a diverse travel tourism market with numerous offerings and is setting its sites on attracting both local and international visitors. Despite economic interruptions caused by th coronavirus, bidding for tourism construction projects has not slowed and local and international tenders remain promising, and completion timelines steadfast.