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HTA sets up panels to advise on policy
 Jeddah, 18th Jun 2001

   The Higher Tourism Authority yesterday named 77 members to its several subcommittees, which will advise the authority on setting out a national tourism plan that will become the basis of the government’s tourism policy.

The HTA was formed last year as part of a series of economic reforms aimed at diversifying revenue sources, creating jobs for citizens and attracting foreign capital as well as encouraging Saudis to repatriate their investments from abroad.

Members of the 10 subcommittees have been selected after a thorough investigation that lasted several months. The members are drawn from experts in various sectors and with different geographical backgrounds, said HTA Secretary-General Prince Sultan ibn Salman.

Twelve members of the 10 groups are women. They will sit on committees dealing with cultural, heritage, tourism and social affairs. Some of them are university teachers while others represent the private sector and philanthropic societies.

The 10 subcommittees will cover environmental and urban development, culture and heritage, tourism and social projects, economic programs, human resources, systems and regulations and tourist information and development. The members will serve for one lunar year and will meet once every two months.

Meanwhile, the advisory board of the HTA will hold its constituent meeting in Jeddah tomorrow in cooperation with the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

The 17-member board headed by Prince Sultan ibn Salman is drawn up from members of the Supreme Economic Council, the General Investment Authority and the business community.

The meeting, which will be accompanied by workshops joined by various advisory groups, will be held under the support and encouragement of Prince Sultan, the second deputy premier and minister of defense and aviation and chairman of HTA board.

Prince Sultan has already called for the removal of all obstacles that stood in the way of the tourism industry in the Kingdom. “This reflects Prince Sultan’s keen interest in ensuring the implementation of the National Tourism Plan and his desire to see a wide-ranging and effective partnership in this regard involving all relevant bodies concerned,” the HTA secretary-general said.

The HTA board includes the ministers of interior, foreign affairs, finance and national economy, planning, commerce, agriculture and water, education, municipal and rural affairs, and pilgrimage as well as the head of the Presidency of Youth Welfare besides other prominent personalities.  

Economists estimate that domestic tourism could generate up to SR12 billion in business annually. They also say that if the sector gains momentum it could result in holding back 50 percent of the estimated SR25 billion spent by some three million Saudis who travel abroad each year.

Recently, Saudi Arabia has taken a number of steps to attract foreign tourists and encourage Saudis to spend their holidays within the Kingdom. The new Umrah system that allows visitors to the holy cities of Makkah and Madinah longer periods of stay and greater freedom of movement in the Kingdom is expected to prop up the tourism industry in different parts of the country.

More than SR15 billion have been spent on developing the tourist infrastructure in Makkah, Dammam, Riyadh and Abha in order to promote domestic tourism.

Source: Arab News©

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18 June 2001 10:09:24 م

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