–          Saudi Arabia entering new era of tourism growth with private sector to play a key role, says Abdullah Al-Dawood, Board Member and Group CEO of Seera Group

–          Partnership with Choice Hotels to manage and operate mid-market hotels with current plans to develop seven hotels in Riyadh, Jeddah and Al Taif; goal is to develop and operate 6,000 hotel rooms by 2022 through investments of over SAR500 million

–          Invests SAR500 million in Destination Management services that will develop assets for desert camps, city bus tours, guided tours and other tourism experiences

–          Strong focus on human capital development by empowering Saudi youth for jobs in tourism with the launch of Almosafer Academy to train the next generation of Saudi travel advisors

Riyadh, Saudi Arabia; September 27, 2019: Seera Group, the leading travel and tourism company in the Middle East, has announced an investment of over SAR1 billion in tourism for the Kingdom covering promotion, distribution, infrastructure and Saudi human capital development.

This was announced by Abdullah Al-Dawood, Board Member and Group CEO of Seera Group, at the signing of an agreement with His Excellency Ahmed Al Khateeb, President of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH) on September 27, 2019 in Riyadh.

"Our investment highlights our commitment to build the tourism value chain of the Kingdom, as Saudi Arabia enters a new era of growth," said Al-Dawood. "In this transformation of the tourism sector, the private sector will play a key role in enabling global visitors to experience the rich and diverse cultural heritage and modern attractions of the Kingdom."

With the Kingdom set to welcome tourists from around the world following the announcement of the new visa framework, Seera Group has set firm strategic measures to ensure that it leads the transformation of the tourism sector. 

"From rebranding our organisation to establishing clearly differentiated business lines, Seera Group has been at the forefront in delivering on the tourism vision outlined by the broader Saudi Vision 2030," said Al-Dawood. "This indeed marks the dawn of a new era, one rich with opportunities, and one that will position the Kingdom as among the most popular tourist destinations in the world. The Saudi Tourism Strategy outlines a clear and concerted focus to boost both domestic tourism as well as international inbound travellers – and it is important that the private sector rally all efforts to deliver on the goals."

Seera Group has announced three broad pillars as part of the new investment: To launch a destination management company (DMC), build the mid-market hospitality sector, and focus on human capital development by training Saudi youth for careers in the tourism industry.

Seera Group is investing SAR500 million in destination management services, which will develop necessary assets such as desert camps, city bus tours, unique guided tours and other tourism experiences. The Group will also develop unique itineraries in collaboration with SCTH to meet both domestic tourism and international inbound customer demand, in addition to showcasing the best of the Kingdom to the world.

To drive the development of the mid-market segment, Seera Group has already established a partnership with Choice Hotels to manage and operate medium-sized hotels, and is currently developing seven hotels in Riyadh, Jeddah and Al-Taif. The goal is to develop and operate 6,000 room keys by 2022, with Seera already investing over SAR500 million.

"One of the significant global trends in tourism is the rise of the millennial travellers, who are not only value-conscious but also aspire culturally relevant, tech-driven hospitality environments. Our immediate priority is to establish a network of mid-market hotels," said Al-Dawood.

Seera Group is also focused on human capital development by strengthening the skillsets of Saudi youth for rewarding careers in the tourism sector. "Investing in our youth is an important building block for our industry and we have launched several initiatives that will help identify, nurture, hire and build a dynamic Saudi workforce who will contribute to the Kingdom’s tourism sector growth," said Al-Dawood.

Accordingly, the Group has launched the Almosafer Academy to enhance Saudi national capabilities within the tourism sector and to help enhance local content in addition to upskilling young Saudis to become knowledgeable about the travel and tourism sector. The first programme was launched in September 2019.

The Academy offers a 10-week specialised recruitment programme focused on attracting Saudi’s multi-talented youth and shaping a new generation of male and female travel advisors. Candidates gain a wealth of knowledge, insights and guidance to develop a deeper understanding of the consumer and the travel industry and cultivate skills ranging from sales and customer experience to operations and leadership.

All these initiatives reflect the remarkable transformation of the Group, today the largest travel company in the Middle East with gross booking value of over SAR9 billion and 58 per cent share of Saudi Arabia’s OTA and 25 per cent share of corporate and government bookings. The company has four core business units – Travel Management (Elaa), Consumer Travel (Almosafer and tajawal), Hajj & Umrah (Mawasim) and Hospitality in addition to car rental and corporate ventures divisions.

"We are thankful our visionary leadership for enabling us to unlock the true potential of our industry and for inspiring us to push our boundaries to set a new model in tourism development here in the Kingdom," concluded Al-Dawood.

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