China’s President Xi Jinping said his country listed Saudi Arabia as an outbound destination for Chinese tourist groups to expand interpersonal exchanges as well as cultural and popular exchanges.
The announcement was made following Xi’s meeting with Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Crown Prince and Prime Minister, in Riyadh on Thursday, China’s News Agency Xinhua reported.
Talks touched on opportunities to invest in the available resources in both countries to achieve their common interests.
Data published by the Saudi Ministry of Tourism indicates that about 20,000 Chinese tourists visited the Kingdom in 2022.
This figure is expected to increase in the future.
Tourism Minister Ahmed al-Khateeb had earlier stated in an interview with Xinhua that the Kingdom seeks to attract Chinese tourists by ensuring they can obtain their tourism visas easily.
The Riyadh Airports Company has announced starting work on standards to facilitate the entry of Chinese tourists, ensuring their travel experience is easier, and overcoming language barriers by providing them with all the needed appropriate services, including payment systems that are compatible with these in China, the minister explained.
Khateeb said that his ministry also seeks to employ Chinese-speaking tour guides, adding that the Kingdom has inked an agreement with China to teach the Chinese language in its school curricula.
Khatib further pointed to the agreement signed between the Saudi Tourism Authority (STA) and the Shanghai-based global payment services provider UnionPay International (UPI), which would allow it to promote the Kingdom as a UnionPay-friendly destination for the global Chinese community.
The Ministry seeks to spend up to SAR264 billion on tourism in 2023, and to attract 3.1 million tourists.
It also targets amounting the contribution to the gross domestic product by about 5.2%, providing 834,000 jobs in the sector, and creating new job paths and professions with approximately 1.6 million direct and indirect jobs.