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A spotlight on the future of travel experiences in Saudi Arabia

11 December 2023

This article first appeared in Campaign Middle East written by, Junior Gonzalez, Senior Strategist at Imagination Dubai.

“Saudi Arabia is steadily becoming top of mind globally – the notion of visiting the Kingdom for a holiday, or choosing it over Dubai or other Middle Eastern destinations is definitely taking place.

Culturally – it’s solidifying its place as the Middle East’s place of culture, taking a profoundly conscientious approach to where they showcase their art and talents.

The investment Saudi Arabia has made in its tourism sector is far-reaching and varied, touching more industries than expected at first glance – and we believe that the most impressive results are yet to come.”

How important is tourism and travel experiences to economies and KSA in particular?

We are steadfast believers in the power of experiences and their innate transformational nature – as they can take a routine, habit or everyday task and turn it into a striking memory, one way or another.

We believe this is even more present in tourism and travel, as guests are taken through a journey mainly composed of touchpoints and experiences, from the second they are planning their trip and have to go on an airline, tourism or visa website, up until the moment they are leaving the country.

Tourism is not only one of the main drivers of Vision 2030 for Saudi Arabia, but it is perhaps the most important in terms of believability and economic growth.

Without a solid, well-planned and expertly executed strategy for tourism, ranging from the holiday visitor to the international investor – it is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to be a regional leader.

How is Saudi Arabia leveraging experiences to redefine travel, transform traditional rituals, and exceed expectations for tourists?

Saudi Arabia is doing, in simplified terms, three things to make travel to the Kingdom unique and distinct:

  1. Subverting what is expected from a Middle Eastern country regarding tourism, culture and the visitor experience.

    By investing heavily in their own talent and people, Saudi is developing a particularly specific type of offering, unlike anything else in the region, that unites the best facilities and technology available today, with unparalleled hospitality and extraordinarily welcoming touchpoints.

  2. Being unapologetically Saudi and proud of their roots and heritage, allowing each region to flourish with their own flavours, colours and style.

    While there is a unified, single-minded vision, the tourism-applied strategy only fully works if the diversity of destinations is strong, supported and consistently funded.

  3. Looking beyond the demographical and econometric data of visitation, and aiming to find a strong reason why people would want to go to Saudi Arabia.

    Be it holiday purposes, business or religious tourism – Saudi’s aim to find a purpose rooted in behaviours and incentives is making all the difference when it comes to defining the role of the visitor.

Junior González

Senior Strategist, Imagination Middle East

Junior is a versatile strategist with a mind for both creativity and business. Intensely curious, he believes in effectively connecting with the right stakeholders at the right time, through strategy, experience, or design.

Kicked off his career at McCann, with a stint at CERN in Geneva, and Jack Morton in Dubai. Clients include FIFA, Uber, Adidas, Saudi Aramco, PIF, Qiddiya, and Saudi’s Ministry of Tourism. As a senior strategist at Imagination Middle East, he's integral to the agency’s regional offer for current and new business and internal culture-building efforts.