JEDDAH (Rahnuma) Prince Sultan bin Salman, president of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH) called on the Arab countries to increase cooperation in the field of tourism.
Speaking at the 21st session of the Council of Arab Ministers of Tourism on Monday in Egypt, he said a vibrant tourism sector could play a huge role in creating employment opportunities in the Arab world.
Saudi Arabia, he said, is taking all measures to boost its tourism sector. The SCTH president said the recently launched tourist visa platform is part of the Kingdom’s plan to diversify its economy and promoting domestic and international tourism.
In a bid to end reliance on oil, the Kingdom is investing in tourism, aiming to increase spending by Saudis at home instead of on holidays abroad.
Encouraging visits to local places of beauty or interest is a key goal of Vision 2030 and the Kingdom has some world-class sites, some in remote areas, which are all but unknown outside the Kingdom.
The SCTH’s Asir office recently added records of 19 new archaeological sites to the National Antiquities Register.
SCTH official Mohammed Al-Umrah said the number of sites listed in the National Antiquities Register through their office in Bisha during this year has increased to 214.
The new sites belong to the pre-Islamic and early Islam eras and were found in three provinces including Bisha, Tathlith, and Balqarn.
The SCTH’s efforts to register heritage and archaeological sites to the Urban Heritage List fall under the Kingdom’s Cultural Heritage Care program that includes a system of projects and programs to develop, highlight and preserve national heritage sites.
Saudi Arabia’s five national treasures have already been added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites since 2008, including Al-Ahsa oasis, Al-Hijr archaeological site (Madain Salih), Historic Jeddah and the rock art at Hail.
The fifth site, recognized by UNESCO in 2010, is Al-Turaif Historical District, the remains of a settlement that dates back to the 15th century. Located in the northwestern outskirts of the capital, Riyadh, it is one of the Kingdom’s oldest heritage sites, though its potential was only recognized relatively recently.