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Wednesday, Feb 28, 2024

Saudi Tourism Authority signs MoU with Visa to develop region’s first tourism data lab 

Saudi Tourism Authority signs MoU with Visa to develop region’s first tourism data lab 

A first-of-its-kind tourism data lab is set for the Middle East after Saudi Arabia reached an agreement with global digital payment solution provider Visa to travel trends insights.
Saudi Tourism Authority has signed a memorandum of understanding with the financial services company to explore innovative ways to enhance the visitor experience and advance the Kingdom’s hospitality industry.

The partnership will be supported by the payment database VisaNet, which delivers a variety of data on incoming tourists and substantial information on how governments can maximize their cashless approach, the press release added.

The collaboration is in line with Saudi Arabia’s National Tourism Strategy, which seeks to attract 100 million visitors by 2030.

Abdulkarim Aldarwish, president of Middle East and Africa markets at STA, said: “The agreement with Visa, the world leader in digital payments, confirms that the Saudi Tourism Authority is keen to enhance its capabilities by providing, exchanging, and analyzing data as well as offering products and promotional package programs that improve the experience of tourists and attract more segments from the main markets in the region.”

The MoU, signed at the Arabian Travel Market 2023 being held in Dubai, will also look into options to deploy Visa’s digital payments solutions and exclusive packages, according to a press release.

“Saudi Arabia is fast emerging as a tourism hub with diverse and enriching experiences awaiting visitors. The industry is also a pivotal pillar in achieving the goals of Saudi Vision 2030 to diversify the economy and create new job opportunities,” said Walter Lironi, senior vice president for Visa consulting and analytics for the central Europe, Middle East, and Africa region.

He added that the company is pleased to enter this partnership with STA as it will allow them to “explore multiple pathways ... (to) enhance the tourism experience of visitors to Saudi Arabia and support the government’s tourism ambition.”

One of the fastest-growing destinations in the region, Saudi Arabia has been investing substantial sums to upgrade the country’s tourism infrastructure while launching new projects to attract travelers from across the world.

During a monthly meeting with citizens in February, the Minister of Tourism Ahmed bin Aqil Al-Khatib revealed that Saudi Arabia’s tourism spending surged 93 percent in 2022 to hit SR185 billion ($50 billion), up from SR95.6 billion the year before.
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