(MENAFN - Arab News) An official from the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA) recently announced that the Kingdom plans to build and operate 233 hotels in the next two years.
The hotels will have 85,620 rooms and the plan involves investments worth SR 10,229 billion to improve services and provide more choices at affordable rates in the tourism sector. Speaking to a local newspaper, Ahmad Al-Eisa, assistant deputy chairman of the SCTA for licenses, said the accelerating growth in facilities of hospitality is a result of the standards provided and of the excellent price-services ratio.
"This was reflected in the competition and rivalry to improve services, as well as the extensive entrance of international companies specializing in hotels and hospitality," he said.
Al-Eisa pointed out that Makkah would witness the highest number of hotel rooms, with the expected number of hotels to be built at more than 50. Jeddah will see the construction of 15 new hotels, and several hotels will be built in Qassim, Tabuk, Al-Ahsa, the Northern Border Province, Madinah, Riyadh, Najran, Jazan, Dammam, Asir and Hail. Two new hotels will be constructed in Taif and another two in Al-Baha.
"A large number of hotels are being built across the country, with different classifications and categories. Some international chains will enter the Saudi market for the first time, while other existing hotels are being expanded," explained Al-Eisa. He said the hotel sector in the Kingdom is experiencing a surge in investments, which would surely reflect on tourism growth.
According to the assistant deputy chairman, when the SCTA initiated the national tourism development plan five years ago, aspirations and forecasts were for another 20 years ahead.
"On these grounds, a five-year plan was set up. But the speedy development in tourism in the Kingdom, thanks to the SCTA and the suitable investment environment, resulted in much larger hotel investments than we had expected," he noted.
License procedures for a large number of construction projects and furnished apartments are currently being finalized .
"In addition to these current investments, we are familiar with reports and conferences in this context that confirm the strength and attractiveness of the Saudi market. This indicates that demand must be met with enough supply from investors," he said.
The SCTA launched earlier the second phase of the electronic system for granting licenses to tourism facilities. The second phase includes switching to instant electronic communication; filling forms, notices, violations and complaints electronically and handling them on the spot; and identifying all details of the facility through an online central database.
The first phase of the electronic system included a number of procedures concerning licenses, categorization, pricing, ownership transfer, changing the commercial name and violations.
The system allows investors in the hospitality sector to register and submit applications for licenses online, which will save time and effort, and to follow up the application process to the very end, with the service of sending instant massages at the end of each stage of the application process. In addition, the system provides all necessary information to the SCTA.