The board of directors of the Saudi Commission for Tourism & Antiquities (SCTA) held their 18th meeting in Riyadh, in which a number of important decisions to reinforce the Kingdom’s tourism industry were taken.

The meeting tackled major issues such as SCTA’s performance in 2008 and future plans, the execution of the national tourism plan in accordance with the Council of Ministers’ resolution, comprehensive evaluation of plans/projects, streamlining processes, and SCTA institutional (expected to be achieved on 2009/2010). Furthermore, the meeting discussed the future vision of the tourism investment, work progress of Red Sea Development Project, in addition to other major tourism destinations.

After reviewing the executive plans for 13 projects of historical city centers and traditional markets, the board of directors decided to hand them over to the municipalities. In addition, a joint program, which aims at marketing Saudi Arabia as a major tourist destination at local and international levels, was approved.

Development of the Kingdom’s MICE market was another major topic that figured high at the meeting, based on the fact that this market already accounts for 17 percent of total tourism spending in the Kingdom. SCTA prepared a comprehensive plan to develop the MICE market by providing quality services with high-tech facilities, in association with other government departments, including the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA).

Finally, the meeting also discussed SCTA’s efforts to preserve and invest in the Kingdom’s antiquities, in addition to reviewing a study on converting state-owned heritage buildings into heritage hotels.

At the end of the meeting, HRH Prince Sultan bin Salman, president of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities stressed the significance of the coming phase, which comes after the approval of SCTA’s new regulation, in which it was granted the full authority on several related sectors – travel and tourism agencies, tourism accommodation and investment, antiquities, and museums.