A recent statistical report executed by MAS center showed that tourism revenues for KSA’s summer festivals reached SR 1.2 billion. Mr. Abdullah Al-Jehani, vice president of marketing and media at the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA), pointed out that this number reflects an increased impact of tourist festivals on the provincial income, in particular and on GDP in general, adding that SCTA is supporting summer tourist festivals in all aspects.
Al-Jehani added that summer events have proven to be as a positive economic factor, and their impact can be seen through the seasonal employment of citizens and especially Saudi youth. In addition, summer festivals have contributed in raising the culture of voluntary work, providing significant opportunities for locals to market folklore, agricultural products, and handicrafts, in addition to increasing the provincial demand, as well as the revival of the tourist accommodation sector. Al- Jehani stated that the Commission is keen on utilizing the Kingdom’s environmental, cultural and heritage diversity.
Accordingly, it has benchmarked its festivals, according unique characteristics of each province. Over the past five years, SCTA focused its efforts on strengthening the tourist festivals culture through marketing; supporting event organizers financially; technically, providing specialized training; and organizing an annual event management forum; in addition to marketing and promotional support through several means such as the Tourism Call Center, electronic events calendar, and extensive media coverage through mass media. Moreover, SCTA is constantly working on developing tourism events, through organizers and tourist’s feedback, event analysis reports.
Al Jehani expects the number of festivals and events supported by the SCTA to increase up to 63 events throughout the Kingdom next year. In 2009, SCTA supported 59 events. In regard of the importance of summer festivals in supporting national tourism, Al-Jehani commented: “Festivals play an important role in creating tourist destinations and increasing the tourism demand at these destinations, including related tourist facilities, as well as highlighting provincial tourism potential. Tourism festivals are also important to strengthen the role of the sense of belonging through introducing them to their national treasures.”