It’s been more than 10 days since my last post. I had the chance to take the family to the magical city of Paris and the magical world of Disneyland Paris. And since I am still in the mood of vacation and tourism, there is nothing better than talking about the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA). And I have to say, they are not going to like this!
I will start this by a confession; although the Saudi Commission for Tourism has been around since 2000 (they later became the SCTA in 2003), I have never been persuaded by any of their activities in those 10 years of operation to change my tourism destinations to inside instead of outside the Kingdom!! And to generalize this confession a bit, I’ve never seen any of my family members or friends change their vacations plans to the inside. Not that we do not have terrific destinations and rich heritage to visit and enjoy, and I mean my words; it is more of the fact that we do not have the business mindset of tourism.
The interesting thing is that the SCTA has an active and regular presence on the media scene and this is something they should be really praised for. However, putting the whole PR campaigns aside, there is nothing you can touch on the ground. At least from where I see it as a customer of whatever service they are providing!
In my belief, their strategy should’ve been built to satisfy two major objectives (they actually have a very long talk about their objectives, vision, and mission in their web page, but I would quote Seth Godin to describe it ‘You write and write and talk and talk and bullet and bullet but no, you’re not really saying anything.’)
- Objective 1: Creating the Tourism Culture
It is creating the culture of hospitality and understanding of differences. The local community of tourism destinations are better to understand and be ready to accept and interact with different people of, sometimes, different cultures. That’s why Egyptians grow up knowing that their country is a major tourism destination. That’s why the people of London, Paris, and Rome are familiar with strangers filling their streets all the year long!! This objective is a pre-request to the objective number 2.
- Objective 2: Creating and Developing the Tourism Business
And this is not something expected from the commission only, but it is expected to lead the orchestra. The business of tourism is all about being organized and taking care of the tiny details. it is in the museums, theme parks, resorts, cultural activities, historical monuments, and logistics (i.e. transportation, tour guidance, information availability, etc). Strangely, our understanding of tourism attractions stopped at shopping festivals and opening bigger malls!! You want a proof, try the next time you visit any hotel around the Kingdom to ask the reception (or the concierge, if there is one!!) to give you a map of the city you are visiting!! And try the same thing in Dubai for example!!
Satisfying the above two objectives is only the beginning of the journey and the first steps on the road … so what do you think the SCTA has accomplished in its 10 years life time?
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