The third phase of Smile – the School Tourism Education Program – will be launched during the next semester (February/March, 2010) in Al-Ahsa. The program will be implemented in collaboration between Al Ahsa municipality and Al Ahsa PTO. Yousef Al Khalfan, the program coordinator and educational supervisor in Al Ahsa, stated that the program, in its third phase, aims at training 78,000 students across the Kingdom, 3,000 of which are students from Al Ahsa belonging to secondary and high schools. Al Khalfan, further stated that by the end of this training program, SCTA, in cooperation with the Ministry of Education, will have completed training five hundred thousand students in the kingdom during the three stages, 12,000 of them which will be from Al Ahsa municipality alone.
Smile made a quantum leap in the mindset of the society. The theory of the program is based on the concept of disseminating the tourism culture and value of tourism to achieve a meaningful education in the community through the common points of convergence between the concepts of tourism and education. The principle aim is strengthening the sense of belonging and national loyalty through raising the importance of national tourism and the aspects of civilization and historical sites in the kingdom. The idea is to deepen the concepts of tourism education aimed at members of the community and instilling the tourism culture of tourists in the minds of the young generation. It is worthy to note that the program, which was launched in 2008, received the Special Jury Prize of UNWTO’s Ulysses Award.