The Saudi Tourism Authority (STA) has opened a commercial office in India as part of its strategy to engage the tourism trade in key source markets and raise awareness of Saudi, the authentic home of Arabia, as travellers around the world dream of exploring exotic destinations once more.
The destination reopened to vaccinated international visitors at the beginning of August.
STA now has representative offices in eleven markets serving 21 countries, with an eventual goal of having 15 offices around the world to expand the reach of the Authority’s activities.
“STA is focused on enhancing its ability to deliver a truly global scale offering by investing resources today in the network that will drive our business for the future,” said Fahd Hamidaddin, CEO of the Saudi Tourism Authority. “We are building an integrated global team of professionals to showcase Saudi’s diverse offering of cultural adventures, world-class heritage sites and authentic Arabian hospitality.”
The India office will be responsible for trade and consumer marketing activities, expanding the reach and relevance of Saudi’s tourism offer and working with tour operators, travel agents and other industry stakeholders to build awareness and drive conversion in line with STA’s strategy and mission.
The India representative office is being set up with the support of Think Strawberries, a leading destination consulting and representation company that provides strategic direction to global tourism brands and destinations through meticulous market research and intelligence, a dedicated salesforce, innovative tools and best practices, to nurture and develop them from a long-term perspective.
“We have already begun outreach into the India tourism trade ecosystem and the response has been very positive,” said Augustus Simon, Director- Indian Subcontinent, Saudi Tourism Authority. “We are actively seeking opportunities to co-invest with partners who are keen to add Saudi as an exciting new destination in their portfolio.”
Since opening its borders to international tourism in September 2019, Saudi rapidly established itself as the fastest-growing tourism destination in the world, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council.
Despite the global shutdown of leisure tourism in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, STA continued to invest to prepare the destination for a return to normalcy.
In 2020 STA delivered a domestic tourism campaign that saw visitor spend across target destinations between July and September increase by more than 30% compared to the equivalent period the year before.
An international brand awareness campaign launched at the beginning of 2021 extends across 26 countries and 13 languages, with significant investment in outdoor, broadcast and digital advertising.
“Saudi has a wealth of iconic sites for travellers to experience when borders reopen and we are ready to welcome visitors from around the world,” said Fahd Hamidaddin. “By investing now in brand awareness and in our network of international offices, we are seeking to expand the global reach and relevance of these sites and integrating new ways of thinking and delivering on our mandate.”
To support the international and domestic tourism trade ecosystem, STA is introducing Saudi Expert, a comprehensive digital platform that provides partner companies with data, insights, destination information and creative assets in real-time.
The new platform is intended to ensure that DMCs, tour operators and other stakeholders have on-demand access to the information they need to build their business.
“Tourism businesses need to be more agile than ever to respond to sudden changes in the environment. Agility depends on a constant supply of up-to-date information, and our goal is to get that information to our partners almost as soon as we get it ourselves,” said Fahd Hamidaddin. “We are working at pace to help our partners introduce the authentic home of Arabia to more people than ever before.”