Saudi Arabia and Switzerland have signed a memorandum of understanding to enhance their collaboration in the tourism sector, aiming to promote their destinations and exchange expertise.
The memorandum of understanding was signed by Fahd Hamidaddin, CEO and board member of the Saudi Tourism Authority (STA), and Livio Goetz, director GCC at Switzerland Tourism, at the STA headquarters in Riyadh on February 7, 2024. The signing ceremony was attended by Swiss Federal Councillor and Head of Economic Affairs, Education, and Research Guy Parmelin, and Swiss Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Yasmine Chatila Zwahlen.
The agreement, which is the first of its kind between the two tourism entities, aims to foster the development of the tourism industry, mutual promotion, and enable collaborative tourism projects between Saudi Arabia and Switzerland. The agreement also sets a new precedent for international tourism cooperation, as both countries seek to diversify their economies and attract more visitors.
A joint marketing strategy to highlight attractions
A key aspect of the partnership is identifying joint marketing initiatives that highlight the unique attractions of each country. Special attention will be given to specific tourism sectors such as marine activities, culture and heritage, and rural tourism, through combined marketing efforts to attract travelers seeking unique experiences. The strategic promotion aims to highlight both Saudi Arabia and Switzerland as leading destinations for tourism that gratify every tourist.
The STA and Switzerland Tourism will also work together to organize events, exhibitions, and conferences in both nations to enhance tourism development, adhering to key goals under Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030, and promoting a shared vision for the future of tourism.
A mutual benefit for both countries
The agreement is expected to bring mutual benefits for both countries, as they seek to increase their tourism revenues and create more jobs in the sector. Saudi Arabia, which opened its doors to international tourists in September 2019, aims to attract 100 million annual visits by 2030, up from 41 million in 2019. Switzerland, which is one of the most popular destinations in Europe, aims to increase its market share in the GCC region, especially from Saudi Arabia, which is the largest source market for Switzerland in the GCC.
According to the STA, the number of visits from Switzerland to Saudi Arabia increased by 84% in 2023, compared to the previous year. According to Switzerland Tourism, Saudi travelers contributed 300,000 hotel nights annually in 2022, with a record average daily spending of CHF420 (SR1,800).
The agreement also reflects the strong bilateral relations between Saudi Arabia and Switzerland, which have been growing in various fields, such as trade, investment, education, and culture.