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Saudi Arabia prepares for more Chinese travelers

By Yang Feiyue | China Daily | Updated: 2023-10-28 10:31
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A view of Diriyah, a town in Saudi Arabia. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Saudi Arabia has set its sights on welcoming 3 million visitors from China by 2030, as it was granted Approved Destination Status (ADS) by the country in September.

The announcement came following a strengthening of bilateral ties between both nations, as well as the success of the Arab-China Business Conference and the Saudi-China Roadshow earlier this year, demonstrating Saudi Arabia's commitment to become an economic and strategic partner to China, experts say.

The achievement of ADS is a significant milestone for Saudi Arabia that will drive greater connectivity with China and unlock new opportunities across the tourism ecosystem, say the authorities from Saudi Arabia.

The bilateral agreement allows Chinese citizens to travel to Saudi Arabia in group tours and offers them greater ease of access to the country.

Saudi Arabia is ready for Chinese tourists with new direct flights, customized products, and strategic partnerships in place to make group and flexible independent travel seamless, according to the Saudi Tourism Authority.

Following the ADS designation, Saudi Arabia will continue to work closely with its partners in China to enhance the existing framework and facilitate the travel experience for Chinese tourists, the tourism authority says.

Du Jiang, vice-minister of Culture and Tourism of China says, "I am delighted to sign the ADS agreement with Saudi, one of our key Belt and Road Initiative partners, as we mark the 10th anniversary of the BRI this year.

"Our decades of close bilateral bonds have shown that our nations share a deep appreciation for each other's rich and diverse cultures and are committed to fostering mutual understanding and respect. ADS, with its potential to enhance people-to-people exchanges and dialogue, is a testament to this shared vision," Du says.

Underpinned by China's Belt and Road Initiative and Saudi Arabia's Vision 2030 — a historic reform blueprint aimed at driving forward meaningful economic and social development — China and Saudi Arabia are unlocking limitless opportunities and pursuing mutually beneficial collaboration, says Ahmed Al Khateeb, the tourism minister of Saudi Arabia.

The ADS status is expected to significantly boost inbound travel from China, creating greater ease of access needed to reach Saudi Arabia's target of attracting 3 million Chinese tourists by 2030, he adds.

"Today signifies the culmination of months of dedicated effort between our nations, encapsulating our enduring and historic bilateral relationship, which is built on a foundation of a shared vision and mutual interests," Al Khateeb says.

"China's expansive connectivity vision is meticulously designed to foster economic prosperity and to secure a brighter future for forthcoming generations. Within this framework, tourism emerges as one of the most pivotal and strategically significant components of our shared journey," he says.

Fahd Hamidaddin, chief executive officer of Saudi Tourism Authority, says: "With the prestigious ADS status as our foundation, we will continue to work closely with our partners like the General Authority of Civil Aviation of Saudi Arabia, as we facilitate the rapid expansion of air connectivity between our two countries.

"We are also streamlining our visa services, offering e-visas in just under three minutes and visas on arrival. Additionally, we have integrated Chinese payment solutions like UnionPay to facilitate seamless payment for Chinese travelers," he adds.

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