(MENAFN - Arab News) With a long-term vision to boost the influx of tourists to the Kingdom, Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry, in cooperation with the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA), established the first International Hotel Show and Summit. The summit was organized by Mice Arabia and dmg events and took place at the Jeddah Center for Forums and Events.
Hani Abu Ras, mayor of Jeddah, inaugurated the exhibition, which was organized under the aegis of Prince Sultan bin Salman, president and chairman of SCTA. The first day of the exhibition witnessed the attendance of many distinguished figures including Salah K. Al-Bukhyyet, vice president for investors at SCTA; Abdullah S. Al-Jehani, vice president of the Tourism Division at SCTA; Mohammed A. Al-Amri, SCTA executive manager for Makkah region; and Mazen Batterjee, vice chairman of the board of directors at JCCI.
One hundred and twenty exhibitors from 24 countries displayed an impressive array of hospitality products and services.
Al-Bukhyyet said this exhibition is the first step toward boosting the Kingdom's tourism industry and in removing any impending obstacles for this sector's growth. He added that a strong hospitality sector will create valuable job opportunities for the Saudi youth and boost the construction industry as well.
"In view of the rise in international and domestic tourism, accompanied by the exponential expansion of the hospitality industry, we expect to have more than 100,000 hotel rooms and 200,000 furnished apartments by 2020. This will also generate 1 million jobs by 2016, with a growth of 25 percent," said Al-Bukhyyet.
Abu Ras said the hotel show is an ideal business platform for highlighting the large-scale infrastructure developments the Kingdom is witnessing and a great networking opportunity for industry peers. "SCTA and Jeddah municipality are working hard to build a thriving tourism hub in Jeddah."
Al-Amri said: "The hotel show is an important exhibition, especially since the Kingdom has witnessed an increase of 18.9 percent in tourism from 2010 to 2011. Jeddah is considered the busiest city, with 65 percent occupancy, according to the National Tourism Development Strategy. Furthermore, investment in the tourism sector and residential construction is expected to reach SR 97.5 billion between 2010 and 2020."