Multi-billion dollar investments in cultural tourism are set to be headed by Saudi Arabia and Oman, as indicated by reports ahead of the 2017 Arabian Travel Market (ATM).
Research conducted by Colliers International revealed Saudi Arabia is prepared to invest up to $2 billion – one of the highest commitments of any government to cultural tourism in the region – with a number of projects and targets lined up under the Saudi Vision 2030.
Key objectives under the vision include increasing the number of public and private museums from 155 to 241; increasing the number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites from four to 10; and increasing the number of archaeological sites available for visit from 75 to 155.
Senior exhibition director, ATM, Simon Press stated: “Cultural tourism sits perfectly alongside this year’s theme of experiential travel, as travellers look to explore destinations and enjoy a more holistic holiday experience. What we see today in Saudi Arabia, and other GCC countries, is an open commitment to strengthen this sector and capitalise on the current global trend.”
Similarly, in 2015 Oman pledged investments of $2.5 billion for the Omagine Project, a mixed-use development set on 245 acres of prime beachfront facing the Gulf of Oman, which is an integration of cultural, heritage, educational, entertainment and residential elements.
Its completion will boost Oman’s growing cultural tourism sector, which includes 18 museums, four UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the Royal Opera House Muscat and Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque, among others.
Press added: “Across the GCC, there is a rising demand for authentic and enriching travel, full of experiences and opportunities to learn about the unique history and culture of this region. For this reason, we can expect many more project announcements of this kind over the coming years.”
This year’s ATM will see a number of emirates and countries focusing on culture in their strategies, including Ras Al Khaimah, Fujairah, Qatar, Bahrain, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and India.