Updated June 21st, 2020 at 17:22 IST

Saudi Arabia to launch $4 billion Tourism Development Fund to revive hard-hit economy

In a bid to revive its hard-hit economy due to COVID-19 outbreak, Saudi Arabia plans to start a tourism development fund with an initial $4 billion investment.

Reported by: Bhavya Sukheja
Edited by: Bhavya Sukheja
Saudi Arabia
| Image:self

In a bid to revive its hard-hit economy due to COVID-19 outbreak, Saudi Arabia reportedly plans to start a tourism development fund with an initial $4 billion investment. According to an international media outlet, the ministry of tourism on June 21 reportedly said that the Tourism Development Fund will launch ‘equity and debt’ investment vehicles in a bid to develop the tourism sector in collaboration with private and investment banks. 

As per a reported statement by the Minister of Tourism Ahmed Al-Khateeb, the launch of the new fund amid such unprecedented times is a testament to the investor and private-sector confidence in the long-term outlook for tourism in Saudi Arabia. Furthermore, the funding will also be deployed to support mixed-use destinations in a bid to address gaps in the tourism value chain and also to enable technologically-enhanced tourism. 

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Moreover, the recent announcement of the launch is also a part of the first phase of the National Tourism Strategy, which focuses on developing and enhancing 38 sites across seven destinations by 2022. Saudi Arabia’s tourism is one of the main pillars of economic reforms which are aimed at weaning the country off its dependence on oil revenue. Amid the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic, the kingdom also lowered its oil prices which severely impacted the economy of the country. 

It was just last year that Saudi Arabia opened up to international tourists. The government reportedly also dropped its strict dress code for foreign women in a bid to attract holidaymakers. With new visa regime, the kingdom hopes that the foreign companies would invest in the sector, which would later contribute over 10 per cent of gross domestic product and also create more than one million jobs by 2030. 

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COVID-19 outbreak 

Meanwhile, according to Johns Hopkins University tally, Saudi Arabia has reported over 154,000 cases so far and nearly 1,230 deaths. Even with an increasing number of cases, the kingdom planned a phased reopening amid an economic crisis. While in the first phase, the Saudi authorities eased curfew in all areas, apart from Mecca and allowed cares to ply between 6am and 3pm, in phase two the officials allowed Friday prayers at mosques. The third phase, on the other hand, is expected to begin on June 21. Meanwhile, Domestic travel restrictions - including internal flights - have also been lifted. 

(Image: AP) 

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Published June 21st, 2020 at 17:22 IST

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