Saudi Arabia joined the rest of the world in observing the World Tourism Day on Saturday in order to foster awareness among citizens and expatriates on the importance of tourism.
Started in 1980 by the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), World Tourism Day is globally observed to highlight the social, cultural, political and economic value of tourism on Sept. 27 every year.
This year the day was celebrated under the theme “Tourism and Community Development” with the aim to focus on the ability of tourism to empower people and provide them with the skills to achieve change in their local communities.
Adopting the theme Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA) is carrying out a number of programs and activities to educate the society on tourism development and transform citizens to accept tourism and press for more demand for the growth of domestic tourism, which is purely Islamic and halal.
Drawing and painting contests for children were also organized to observe the occasion.
The SCTA media department said that the tourism initiative and the community development are at the top of the agenda.
“With the establishment of the SCTA in 2000, the general strategy in the building phase of national tourism has been community awareness and the relationship between tourism and the society through highlighting the importance and value of the community’s role in the development of tourism.
Hence, the action plan of tourism and the community is focused on continuing to promote the culture of tourism among community groups and members of institutions and the private sector in response to the growing needs of the society in the demand for tourism for recreation besides investment to pave the way for employment opportunities and sustainable development,” it underlined.
The accomplishments of the SCTA over the years with regards to the relationship of tourism with the community have faced a lot of obstacles especially in the initial stages when the commission was seeking the acceptance of tourism by the community, it added.
SCTA chief Prince Sultan bin Salman stated: “Operations to promote tourism awareness should focus on reaching all groups in the community and help them to see its contribution to the national economy thus paving the way for sustainable tourism.”
Defining the strategy for awareness programs, an official at the media department observed that a number of programs were implemented by SCTA which include “Tourism Enriches” program, through which SCTA undertakes educating communities on the positive effects of tourism by organizing workshops for community leaders to highlight the benefits that can be realized from this promising sector.
Furthermore, SCTA has sought to achieve its goal through issuing booklets on “tourism codes and conducts,” which is a set of instructions in several languages to be observed in the practice of tourism, by both domestic and foreign tourists.
In addition, SCTA has conducted “color with heritage” program in partnership with the Ministry of Education to promote the culture of tourism in the school community through encouraging drawing and painting skills among elementary students which highlight the cultural dimensions of the Kingdom.
Moreover, the “Smile” educational program also designed by SCTA, aims at en-rooting the tourism culture among society members through focusing on the educational community, to achieve comprehensive awareness where students are trained theoretically within the schools and practically by visits to cultural landmarks.