Key Role Earmarked for Travel & Tourism in Saudi Arabia’s Economic Rebound

Saudi Arabia’s efforts to boost airport capacity as part of a broader bid to make tourism and logistics new engines of growth, are mapped out in a new Covid Response Report (CRR), prepared by the Oxford Business Group (OBG) in partnership with Saudi Ground Services (SGS).

The CRR provides in-depth analysis of the Kingdom’s response to the pandemic in an easy-to-navigate and accessible format, highlighting key data in infographics relating to the country’s socio-economic landscape.

The report lays out the increases in passenger numbers witnessed at Saudi Arabia’s airport terminals prior to the suspension of international flights due to Covid-19, as the push to boost trade and attract more visitors gained pace.

It also considers the significance of the decision to lift all restrictions on air, land and sea transport on January 1, 2021, which is expected to play a major part in accelerating recovery across the Kingdom’s aviation industry and support long-term growth in travel.

Topical issues explored in the CRR included the move to bring the private sector on board to modernise operations at domestic and international gateways, and the role earmarked for digitalisation in enhancing ground services.

In addition, subscribers will find an analysis of SGS’s growth story, which has mirrored the expansion of the wider aviation sector, and the company’s decision to tap new revenue streams by introducing additional services during the pandemic. OBG’s coverage also considers the post-pandemic opportunities for both SGS and other players, which are expected as a result of the capacity increases planned for many of KSA’s gateways.

The report includes a wide-ranging interview with Fahad Cynndy, CEO at SGS, in which he highlights the increased focus in the industry on last-mile delivery services and opportunities for strategic partnerships.

“While Covid-19 has impacted flight operations, it has actually, cautiously speaking, advanced collaborative efforts between industry stakeholders to add value and diversify revenue streams,” he told OBG. “Essentially, there is a need to offer barrier-free entry for new players in the aviation industry; we aim to fill that gap by connecting airport operators, airlines and passengers through our services platform,” he added.

Jana Treeck, OBG’s Managing Director for the Middle East, said that firm fiscal foundations, successful efforts to control the pandemic, and an ongoing diversification drive meant that Saudi Arabia was well-placed to make a swift economic recovery after a challenging year, with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) forecasting growth of 3.1% for the Kingdom in 2021 – the highest among GCC countries.

“Saudi Arabia was one of the first countries in the world to approve the use of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine – a move in early December that followed on from a widespread testing regime, which was instrumental in keeping the country’s case-fatality rate among the lowest in the world,” Treeck said. “Looking ahead, the introduction of the vaccination programme is expected to pave the way for a resumption in day-to-day life, including heightened activity across the travel and tourism industry.”

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