In a groundbreaking move, the Saudi Tourism Authority (STA) and Switzerland Tourism have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to elevate collaboration in the tourism sector. The agreement, signed by CEO and Board Member of STA Fahd Hamidaddin and Director GCC at Switzerland Tourism Livio Gotz, marks a significant milestone in international tourism cooperation between Saudi Arabia and Switzerland.
The ceremony, held at the Saudi Tourism Authority headquarters, was attended by Swiss Federal Councillor Guy Parmelin, Head of Economic Affairs, Education, and Research, along with Swiss Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Yasmine Chatila Zwahlen.
This first-of-its-kind MoU aims to foster the development of the tourism industry, mutual promotion, and collaborative tourism projects, setting a new precedent for global cooperation in tourism.
A key aspect of this partnership is identifying joint marketing initiatives that highlight the unique attractions of each country. Special attention will be given to specific tourism sectors such as marine activities, culture and heritage, and rural tourism, through combined marketing efforts to attract travellers seeking unique experiences. This strategic promotion aims to highlight both Saudi Arabia and Switzerland as leading destinations for tourism that gratify every tourist.
Additionally, STA and Switzerland Tourism will work together to utilize the latest technology in the industry to promote a more seamless travel journey for visitors. This will be achieved through amplified cooperation between local tourism agencies and operators, providing opportunities for further partnerships and value between Saudi Arabia and Switzerland.
Commenting on the partnership, Fahd Hamidaddin said, “We are thrilled to embark on this historic collaborative journey with Switzerland Tourism, which is the first of its kind between Saudi Arabia and any tourism board.”
“Last year, the number of visits from Switzerland to Saudi Arabia increased by 84%. This new agreement will build on that progress with increased collaboration that unlocks valuable growth opportunities for both countries.”
“This partnership not only signifies the convergence of two rich and diverse tourism landscapes but also emphasizes the importance of global cooperation in fostering enriching travel experiences.”
Livio Goetz commented: “Saudi Arabia holds great importance as a key market for ST, being the largest market within the GCC. Notably, 40% of all overnight stays in the GCC are generated from Saudi Arabia. To bolster its presence and appeal to Saudi guests, ST has a new dedicated representative based in Riyadh. This strategic initiative aims to enhance the manifestation of Switzerland as a leading holiday destination. Saudi travellers, contributing 300,000 hotel nights annually (2022) exhibit a record average daily spending of CHF420.”
The Saudi Tourism Authority and Switzerland Tourism will further collaboratively organize events, exhibitions, and conferences in both nations to enhance tourism development, adhering to key goals under Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030, and promoting a shared vision for the future of tourism.
Aiming to attract 150 million visitors by 2030, Saudi Arabia is one of the fastest-growing destinations in the world and is transforming to build the world’s most dynamic year-round tourism destination.
Saudi Arabia is increasing its connectivity to the world through a $100 billion Saudi Aviation Strategy and is currently connected to over 128 destinations, including Switzerland. Current operations include three weekly flights from Geneva to Riyadh, with a capacity of 330 seats, and four weekly flights from Geneva to Jeddah with 564 seats. Zurich has connectivity to Riyadh with three weekly flights with over 300 seats.
Switzerland is integrated into Saudi’s e-Visa program, which also accommodates Schengen, US, and UK visa holders, facilitating increased and seamless access to Saudi Arabia. This move simplifies traveling considerably, making visiting Saudi Arabia easier than ever before. The strategic alliance between the two countries signifies a critical advancement in Saudi Arabia’s tourism sector and lays the groundwork for future collaborations with Switzerland, a key European market.