Interview: Saudi Arabia expects 5 mln Chinese tourists by 2030, says tourism official-Xinhua

Interview: Saudi Arabia expects 5 mln Chinese tourists by 2030, says tourism official

Source: Xinhua

Editor: huaxia

2024-05-06 16:53:15

by Martina Fuchs

ST. GALLEN, Switzerland, May 6 (Xinhua) -- Saudi Arabia aims to attract 5 million Chinese tourists by 2030, said Gloria Guevara, chief special advisor at the Saudi Ministry of Tourism.

"China is a very important country and source market for us. We would love to have 5 million Chinese, that is the target and for that we have multiple strategies as part of one plan that we're executing," Guevara told Xinhua at the 53rd St. Gallen Symposium.

The St. Gallen Symposium is a student-driven organization and platform for cross-generational dialogue and collaboration. This year's event, which ran from May 2 to 3 on the theme of "Confronting Scarcity," brought together more than 100 speakers, 500 student volunteers and 1,200 participants.

Part of Saudi Arabia's Vision 2030 is to receive 100 million domestic and international tourists by 2030, said Guevara, adding that "We accomplished that seven years earlier."

The Saudi Ministry of Tourism announced in February that the country had received 106.2 million domestic and international tourists in 2023, marking a 56 percent increase from 2019 and a 12 percent rise from 2022.

"The good news is the growth continues and now by 2030, we want that number to be 150 million," Guevara said.

Last August, the Saudi Tourism Authority (STA) said it intended to attract 4 million Chinese visitors annually by 2030.

"The STA under CEO Fahd Hamidaddin has been in China multiple times, we have offices there. We have a Saudi week where we receive 85,000 Chinese to come and learn a little bit about Saudi," said Guevara.

"There are now signs in Mandarin at the airport in Riyadh. We're training tour guides, we're working with hotel groups like Jinjiang, Radisson, and many others to customize the experiences so that we can have offerings they expect," said Guevara.

"We're working in multiple areas to attract more Chinese so they can enjoy the culture and of course the hospitality and the gastronomy that they love," she said.

Tourism also promotes cultural understanding and plays a vital role in building cultural bridges with China, said Guevara.

"The partnership between Saudi (Arabia) and China is very, very important and very strong. For us, tourism allows us to build those bridges, to create empathy and allows us to learn from each other, learn from different cultures," she said.

"China is a strategic partner for Saudi Arabia, we have a lot of businesses and government officials coming to Saudi," Guevara said.

In December 2022, China agreed to list Saudi Arabia as a destination for group travel, and expand cultural and people-to-people exchanges between the two sides.