Saudi Arabia to pay airlines to bring tourists to the country

Saudi Arabia to pay airlines to bring tourists to the country | Secret Flying

Saudi seeks tourism boost by paying airlines to fly there.


Saudi Arabia is offering incentives to airlines to start flying unprofitable routes linking it to major global cities, as part of efforts to boost tourist arrivals.


The Persian Gulf kingdom still plans to hit a goal of attracting 100 million visitors a year by 2030.


The Saudi government is calling the initiative the Air Connectivity Program, which hasΒ already signed a deal with national carrier Saudia to fly to Zurich and Barcelona.


However, the program will primarily target foreign carriers in bringing tourists to the Kingdom.


“The main purpose is to create direct flights to our main target markets,” Tourism Minister Ahmed Al Khateeb said in Jeddah.


“The program will compensate airlines to cover their losses from flying direct flights to these very important hubs for us.”


Funding will come directly from the government, though it wasn’t immediately clear how much was being put aside for the program.


“We have to negotiate with every carrier to size it,” Al Khateeb said.


Subsidizing carriers to fly to the country is an indication of how limited options are for travellers to get there.


“Our objective is to incentivize airlines to fly new routes to and from Saudi Arabia, by sharing start-up financial risks for routes that promise long-term viability, in line with international best practices,” said Khalil Lamrabet, Chief Executive Officer of the Air Connectivity Program.


Saudi Arabia’s ambitious tourism pushΒ is the latest step in Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s strategy to reduce reliance on the world’s largest crude oil exports and turn Riyadh into a global business centre.