Saudi Gazette – MARINE tourism can be one of the main drivers of economic growth in the Kingdom. Unfortunately, local businessmen have so far failed to invest in this crucial sector.
The sea can be a nice escape from the daily pressures of life and can generate profits for investors. However, most tourist sites on the country’s seafronts do not have entertainment facilities, such as parks, restaurants, resorts and shopping centers. It seems that local investors are not interested or do not know how to tap this important resource, Al-Riyadh daily reports.
Muhammad Al-Mejel, chairman of the national tourism committee at Riyadh Chamber of Commerce and Industry and an investor in the entertainment sector, has acknowledged that marine-based tourism does not exist in Saudi Arabia despite its huge potential.
“The Kingdom has the longest coastline in the Gulf region. Nevertheless, the marine-based tourism almost does not exist and the potential of the beaches has not been fully tapped fully,” Al-Mejel said.
“The Red Sea coastline running from Jazan to Tabuk has great tourism potential, especially in winter because of the nice weather and beautiful scenery,” he added.
Al-Mejel underscored the importance of tapping the full potential of the coasts based on the elements of attractions each beach offers. For example, Yanbu and Rabigh have great potential for diving and can attract many who love this sport as they both have coral reefs. Generally speaking, the seafronts should have ships and boats that take tourists on short cruises and trips and even allow them to stay onboard for one or two nights to enjoy the beauty of the sea.
According to Al-Mejel, one of the steps that should be taken to promote marine-based tourism is to draft laws to regulate investment activities in the sector. The absence of such legislation is a great obstacle facing this type of tourism. Legislation together with government support will open new investment windows and make investors think about new ways to invest in the sector instead of sticking to the same investment mode – building chalets.
Khalid Al-Bishi, a social activist, talked about social obstacles and their role in preventing the majority of investors from focusing on marine-based tourism and the joy it can bring.
“Some countries rely heavily on marine resources as a driver of economic growth. Take France as an example. Each year thousands of tourists head for French beaches to relax and breathe fresh air. Our beaches have a lot more potential. It is high time we tapped it,” Al-Bishi said.
Ahmad Al-Joaid, a tourist guide, said investment in marine-based tourism is currently limited to Jeddah and the Eastern Province although there are several seafronts in the country. In fact, the Kingdom is one of the countries that have attractive beaches such as the ones in Jazan, Dhiba and Al-Wajh that adorn the country’s western coastline, which is almost 1,500 kilometers long.
“Why not build five-star resorts, amusement parks and water rides to attract visitors and tourists on these beaches. We must follow the example of Sharm Al-Sheikh in Egypt. It is a new coastal city that was built completely from scratch. We need to have similar places and build hotels and airports near them and invest in strong infrastructure,” he said.