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World Tourism Day: Saudi Air Connectivity Program Lays Ground for New Routes

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  • International delegates gathered in Riyadh on September 27 and 28 to celebrate World Tourism Day at an event hosted by World Tourism Organization (WTO) 
  • ACP’s participation in World Tourism Day event highlights ongoing expansion of air routes

Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, September 27, 2023: Global delegates converged in Riyadh to mark World Tourism Day at a special event hosted by the UN’s World Tourism Organization. The Saudi Air Connectivity Program (ACP) engaged in substantive discussions with ministers and government officials from various nations, including representatives from South Africa's Ministry of Tourism, the China Chamber of Tourism (CCT), the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister of Mauritius, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Sierra Leone, the Ministry of Tourism in Senegal, and the Global Tourism Agenda at the Japan Tourist Bureau.

The event centered on the development of new global tourism investment strategies, serving as a rallying point for tourism leaders to explore new avenues for growth in the industry. Discussions were aimed at fostering international collaboration and partnerships to enhance air connectivity and strengthen the tourism sector.

Notably, ACP's meeting with representatives from South Africa coincided with the recent signing of the new Jeddah-Johannesburg route between ACP and SAUDIA earlier this year. This strategic route, scheduled to take its inaugural flight on December 1st, 2023, will offer travelers three weekly round-trip flights, improving accessibility between Saudi Arabia and South Africa.

In line with ACP's commitment to meeting the growing tourism demand, the Program is conducting feasibility studies and market research to explore potential destinations within South Africa, such as Cape Town, and assess their viability for future connectivity.

The event's opening remarks were delivered by His Excellency Ahmed Al-Khateeb, Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Tourism, who emphasized the pivotal role of enhanced air connectivity in strengthening international travel networks and providing tourists with access to seamless travel experiences.

During the event, Ali Rajab, CEO of ACP, shared that "ACP is forging new partnerships with exciting destinations like South Africa to establish Saudi Arabia as a leading tourism destination and global aviation hub. We see Africa as a pivotal target market for Saudi Arabia.”

He continued, "Our ongoing efforts to open new routes with countries across the continent, from Morocco and Algeria in North Africa to Nigeria in Central Africa, and now South Africa, reflect our determination to meet the growing demand for connectivity throughout Africa. Events like this provide a valuable platform for ACP to initiate discussions, explore prospects, and foster enhanced connectivity while nurturing international partnerships that contribute to the growth and development of the global tourism industry."

In light of the WTO’s call for innovation and collaboration on World Tourism Day, Saudi Arabia's travel and tourism leaders, including key stakeholders such as ACP, are continuing the transformation of the Kingdom’s tourism industry. Over the past year, Saudi Arabia introduced 23 new air routes connecting the Kingdom to three continents – resulting in a substantial expansion of seat capacity, amounting to nearly 700,000.

About the Air Connectivity Program
Air Connectivity Program (ACP) was established in 2021 to contribute to tourism growth in the Kingdom by enhancing air connectivity and developing existing and prospective air routes that link Saudi Arabia with the rest of the world. As an executive enabler of the National Tourism Strategy and the National Aviation Strategy, ACP promotes collaboration and engagement between key public and private sector players in tourism and aviation industries to establish Saudi Arabia as a global leader in tourism air connectivity.