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Mon 1 Aug 2016 01:47 PM

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Saudi gov't 'approves $6.9bn of tourism, heritage projects'

National Transformation Program aims to boost tourism to diversify economy

Saudi gov't 'approves $6.9bn of tourism, heritage projects'
Saudis attend the Janadriyah festival of Heritage and Culture held in the Saudi village of Al-Thamama, 50 kilometres north of the capital Riyadh. (Fayez Nureldine/AFP/Getty Images)

More than SR26 billion ($6.9 billion) of tourism projects were approved by Saudi Arabia’s National Transformation Program on Sunday, according to local media.

The NTP is part of the kingdom’s Vision 2030 strategy to diversify the economy away from oil.

Among the sectors the Saudi government wants to develop is tourism. The NTP committee has approved 13 initiatives run by the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage, Arab News reported on Monday, although it did not disclose full details of the projects.

They are understood to focus on preserving the kingdom’s national heritage. The NTP has already stated that it intends to support cultural initiatives such as the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Program for the Care of National Heritage and Culture, and fund the development of heritage sites, museums, handicrafts centres and other places of national interest across Saudi Arabia.

Additional support and funding will be allocated to help develop museums and exhibitions that were previously approved by the NTP but are still awaiting funding, according to Arab News.

In particular, the NCP aims to develop tourist sites including Jazr Forsan, Souk Okaz city in Taif, Al Ula and Al Ra’as Al Abyadh in Madinah, the newspaper said.

The committee plans to work with the Ministry of Finance to provide a further SR3 billion of funding to hotel, tourism and heritage projects in the kingdom, including interest-free loans to investors working in tourism projects.

And a tourism marketing council is to be established, with private sector participation, to develop a range of products, activities and campaigns to support the sector.

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