Saudi Tourism
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Abu Dhabi: Saudi Arabia plans to increase the number of tour guides to 13,000 by 2030 to provide service to about 20 per cent of 100 million tourists, a senior official said.

Sattam Al Balawi, chairman of the Saudi Tourism Guidance Association, said the number of guides about two years ago was about 600, and now the number has reached 900..

The Saudi Ministry of Tourism has announced a plan to increase the number of tourist sites by more than 150 per cent in less than two years, confirming the government’s keenness to develop this sector.

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Saudi Arabia aims to increase tourism’s contribution to the Kingdom’s GDP from 3 to 10 per cent, and to secure one million new jobs.

Al Balawi told Okaz that Asir region is leading the Saudi summer season this year on turnout. He said Asir had the lion’s share in the number of tourists, attracted by destinations including Tabuk, Al Wajh, Umluj and Yanbu. These destinations are expected to attract more visitors in the coming years, especially with the opening of major projects.

Al Balawi revealed a guide’s daily wage depends on skill, capabilities, experience, and ability to market themselves and gain the confidence of tour operators. Some make between 1,000 and 1,500 riyals, while others get between 300 and 500 riyals. Al Balawi attributed the high wages of the guides to the small number of them and the modest number of trips.

Al Balawi stressed that the regulations apply to everyone, citizens, residents or visitors. He said that after 14 years in guidance, he is certain tourists respect Saudi culture and social customs, with guides keen to alert tourists to the values and customs of the local community.

On the high prices of hotels and restaurants, he said the market is subject to the law of supply and demand, and as long as there is a shortage of rooms available, the price will be high.

He said increased investment is required in the accommodation sector, adding that what distinguishes Saudi society is its welcoming of others. Ppenness to tourism represents a real opportunity to change the stereotype about the Saudi society, he said.