Travel & Hospitality Saudi teams with Indian travel portal to boost tourism By Shane McGinley May 20, 2022 Creative Commons Saudi targets Indian tourism market with diverse attractions including Islamic pilgrimage site, Medina The Saudi Tourism Authority has signed an agreement with EaseMyTrip, India’s second-largest online travel platform for air ticket bookings, as part of its goal to exceed 70 million visitors to the kingdom by the end of 2022. As part of the deal, EaseMyTrip will raise awareness about Saudi Arabia as a tourist destination in India and create tourism packages targeted to the Indian market, helping to boost inbound travel into the kingdom. “As the authentic home of Arabia, Saudi offers fascinating heritage sites, an authentic cultural experience and breathtaking natural beauty, ideal for the curious, adventurous Indian traveller,” Alhasan Aldabbagh, chief markets officer – Asia Pacific, Saudi Tourism Authority, said. “As we work towards achieving our ambitious tourism goals, India is a an important source market for Saudi and this signing is key to paving the way for strategic tourism collaboration with EaseMyTrip, to unlock opportunities for growth and strengthen the position of Saudi as a must-visit destination,” he added. EaseMyTrip, which also has offices in Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines, the UAE, UK, and US, has previous experience working with Gulf governments, having partnered with Expo 2020 Dubai. It has also worked with the Abu Dhabi, Bahrain and Sharjah governments. India is a key strategic market for Saudi Tourism, according to Fahd Hamidaddin, CEO of Saudi Tourism Board. “We went on a road trip to India, met a lot of travel agents there and have some promising partnerships. Now, our focus is on air carriers. We want to develop routes from India and grow these routes. We want to promote the destinations with our trade partners from India,” Hamidaddin told Indian newspaper, The Business Standard in April. “I am expecting a lot [of bilateral agreements] to be signed this year. Because we feel India is definitely a key market for Saudi. The government is also addressing the issue of accessibility with visas and air connectivity for leisure, business and religious travel,” he added. With nearly 1.4 billion people, the Indian market will be a key factor in helping Saudi Arabia to achieve its visitation targets this year. The kingdom attracted 62 million tourist visitors last year and is aiming to exceed 70 million in 2022. Visits were up 130 percent in the first quarter of 2022 compared with the last quarter of 2019, Hamidaddin told Reuters in Dubai at the annual Arabian Travel Market event this month.