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Saudi Arabia seeks to attract 53,000 Korean travelers in 2023

By Kim Hae-yeon

Published : June 1, 2023 - 17:05

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Al-Balad, a historical area of Jeddah, the second largest city of Saudi Arabia (STA) Al-Balad, a historical area of Jeddah, the second largest city of Saudi Arabia (STA)

Saudi Arabia is gearing up to welcome 53,000 Korean visitors in 2023, almost five times the 11,000 visitors recorded last year, aided by direct flight routes, stopover visas and diversified travel packages, according to the Saudi Tourism Authority on Monday.

During a tourism roadshow at the Westin Josun Seoul on Monday, the STA introduced a wide range of experiences available to Korean holidaymakers in the kingdom, centered around the Golden Triangle.

The Golden Triangle refers to three major cities -- Riyadh, AlUla and Jeddah -- interconnected by highway system and domestic flights. Saudi is home to over 10,000 archaeological sites and six UNESCO World Heritage sites, including Jeddah’s historical district Al Balad and Turaif in Diriyah.

"Saudi is committed to facilitating a seamless travel experience for all kinds of travelers, from meditation and relaxing trips to adventures and entertainment," Alhasan Aldabbagh, STA's Asia Pacific region president said. "We know Korean travelers are looking for authentic experiences and we are confident that those who know nothing about Saudi Arabia can also enjoy a magnificent trip with so many things to see."

Saudi outpaced other G-20 countries in post-pandemic tourism recovery, with 93.5 million visits in 2022. In comparison, 500,000 visitors visited the Middle East for travel or business purposes in 2019. In the next decade, the Saudi government is set to spend $1 trillion on tourism to attract 100 million visitors by 2030 in an effort to diversify its economy.

"Our initial aim is for Korean travelers going to Jordan, Dubai or Qatar, to drop by Saudi Arabia for two to three days conveniently through stopover visas. Hopefully by the next time, they will spend 10 to 14 days fully enjoying the Golden Triangle," Aldabbagh said.

Since August, Saudi Arabia’s national carrier Saudia has been operating direct flights between Seoul and Riyadh, with the addition of a new Jeddah-Seoul route in March this year to further boost travel between the two countries.

South Korea is participating in Saudi Arabia's e-visa program along with 48 other countries. The new 96-hour Stopover Visa also applies to Korean travelers, in which a complimentary one-night hotel stay in Saudi Arabia is offered.