Tourism Resumes in Saudi Arabia with 'Tanaffas' Initiative
Saudi Arabia launched the Tanaffas (breathe) initiative to that allows local tourists to enjoy 10 destinations in the country without compromising their health as strict safety safeguards have been put in place as the country still grapple with the novel coronavirus outbreak.
In a virtual press conference on Wednesday, Saudi Tourism Minister Ahmed Al-Khatib said that internal tourism will become prevalent all over the world because coronavirus fears discourage travel abroad.
“This summer presents a great opportunity for exploring Saudi Arabia’s many tourist destinations and their historical, natural and cultural treasures,” he said. “The campaign also contributes to the Ministry of Tourism’s efforts to rejuvenate the tourism sector, which had been the most affected by the ramifications of the coronavirus crisis.”
Al-Khatib announced that he is planning to set up a tourism development council that will be chaired by himself and include several ministers, primarily in order to coordinate the government’s efforts to overcome all the obstacles preventing private sector investment in tourism, especially since there is an abundance of attractions in the Kingdom.
The Kingdom has 10 registered global tourist sites, a variety of beaches and a distinct climate, especially in the south.
He expects large segments of the citizens of the Gulf states, who usually head to Taif, Abha and Al-Baha to enjoy nature, would flock to the Kingdom if restrictions on travel were lifted.
Fahad Hamidaddin, the chief of investment, strategy and tourism marketing at the Tourism Ministry, said tourism initiatives will focus on mountainous and coastal areas and, in coordination with the Ministry of Sports, the issuance of tourism promotion licenses to private companies will be facilitated.
He also pointed to the formulation of safety protocols in cooperation with the Ministry of Health’s National Center for Disease Prevention and Control (Weqaya), which have been approved by the Ministry of Health and launched by the Ministry of Tourism.
He added: "We have three criteria for choosing tourist destinations, quality, availability and the diversity of activities.”
He pointed out that the Ministry of Tourism has organized the housing through what is referred to as "shared housing", and many companies have been licensed, including My Rest House and Kathir Inn. He pointed out that residents of the regions without hotels can participate by renting out their farms, rest houses or even their homes through organized initiatives to host tourists.
The tourist destinations for the season are spread out across the Kingdom; they include the city of Tabuk in the far north, the cities of Umluj and Yanbu, King Abdullah Economic City, Jeddah, Taif, and al-Baha, the mountains in Asir and Abha city, Riyadh and the eastern region.