CEO of hotel giant IHG reveals post-Covid standards for its 5,600 properties

Keith Barr CEO IHG

SUMMIT NEWS June 8, 2020

One of the world’s biggest hotel chains has laid out the standards that will ensure post-pandemic safety for guests at its 5,600 hotels across 100 countries.

‘We’re making sure that we provide a safe environment so customers can enjoy themselves because they do want to travel,’ InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) CEO Keith Barr.

That means no more than three people will be allowed into an elevator at the same time,  buffets and restaurants will be eliminated in favor of grab-and-go dining, and room service will be contactless.

Mr Barr is a guest panellist at a special virtual summit The Future of Travel & Tourism on Wednesday June 10, 2020.

He will be part of a session titled ‘Planning for the future: Understanding globalisation in the post Covid-19 world and the investment measures needed to boost recovery of the global travel and tourism industry’ from 11am (UK time).

Barr, who stepped in the CEO role at IHG three years ago heads a chain, which includes popular brands like Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza, and Regent Hotels and Resorts, also said that swimming pools in his hotels will be socially distanced.

THE FUTURE OF TRAVEL & TOURISM VIRTUAL CONFERENCE June 10, 2020 DETAILS & REGISTRATION

There will be temperature screening at the front desks, hand sanitizer stations positioned throughout the facility, social distancing markers in public areas, and decluttering rooms in the public spaces to make sure that high-touch items are no longer present.

Barrtold ABC News in an interview that he expects demand for hotel rooms to pick up toward the summer as travelers will be getting into their cars rather than flying in planes to take vacations.

‘We think we are going to have a lot of domestic travel and not a lot of international travel, and it will be drive because people feel comfortable getting in their cars and driving to stay at a Holiday Inn or Holiday Inn Express,’ he said.

‘That’s going to be the travel trend, with fewer people wanting to get on flights.’

Earlier this month, InterContinental Hotels said it expects revenue per available room to plunge 80 per cent in April compared with last year and that the coronavirus crisis was the biggest challenge the hotel industry ever faced.

InterContinental Hotels Group has also introduced a new global standard of hotel cleanliness and hygiene following a major collaboration with internal and external specialists in operations, health, safety and guest experience.

The experts, collectively known as the IHG Global Cleanliness Board, liaised heavily with Cleveland Clinic Chief Clinical Transformation Officer, James Merlino, to design the company’s new best practices and implementation processes.

Building on IHG’s ‘Way of Clean’ program – which launched in 2015 in partnership with hygiene and cleaning technology brands Ecolab and Diversey – guests can expect to see enhanced and more visible cleaning practices in effect. These may include a reduction of high-touch in-room furnishings, new laundry protocols and visual verification of sanitised items such as glassware and the television remote control.

Underpinning the new hygiene regime is a ‘Clean Promise’ from IHG which states that if a guest is unsatisfied with the standard of cleanliness in their room, the property will immediately rectify the situation. The new policy took effect from June 1, 2020.

More visible charts informing guests when an area was last cleaned will pop up around hotel public spaces and facilities including fitness centres, swimming pools, lounges, restaurants and bars. Along with social distancing measures, new practices at hotel buffets, room services, catering and banquets are likely to be introduced in line with local health requirements.

Register Free to be part of the virtual summit on June 10, 2020, begins 9.15am (GMT+1) HERE

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SPEAKERS JUNE 10 2020

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theFuture of Travel June 10

REGISTER The ITIC-WTM virtual conference is FREE to attend online.

It focuses on three themes:

1. Health: dealing with Covid-19, and how we restore travellers’ confidence and rebuild business.

2. Investment: understanding the financial mechanisms that allow you to survive and rebuild.

3. Future: This may not be the last crisis, how can you prepare for any future global catastrophe

This virtual summit uses the latest video technology, viewable on your browser, will bring together more than 2,000 attendees in an interactive environment.

Greek MEP backs smartphone tracing apps to save European tourism…but wants more done

Summit News 6th June 2020

Contact tracing apps in smartphones will only help the tourism sector in Europe if all countries work together, warns Elenena Kountoura MEP.

She is one of Greece’s most well-known politicians and Ms Kountoura is a guest panellist at a special virtual summit The Future of Travel & Tourism on Wednesday June 10, 2020.

Greece, faces a financial meltdown if tourism is not re-established quickly and the MEP has called for Europe-wide co-operation. 

The former Greek Minister of Tourism joined the European Parliament last year and supports smart phone tracing apps to help curb the spread of the virus. She feels the app could be part of the solution but fears older people may be excluded, like the over-50s in her own country.

“In Greece, the vulnerable population, over the age of 50, constitutes the majority and does not use smartphones at a rate of 71 per cent – to be effective 60-75 per cent of people must use them,” she said.

She was speaking in a debate last month at the European Parliament where she welcomed the introduction of tracing apps to warn people of potential dangerous contact.

“Areas such as tourism need practical solutions now. How will this be done when each EU state uses its own application? If these questions are not answered immediately, I am afraid that the use of contact tracking and warning applications becomes too little too late.”

She admitted she was sceptical about the overall ability of smartphone apps and highlighted concerns she shared with other MEPs: “We would all like to be safe, knowing that we have an application that will inform us anonymously about potential carriers of the virus. If we take into account that the use of the applications is carried out on a voluntary basis, the serious risk of the failure of the project becomes even more obvious.”

THE FUTURE OF TRAVEL & TOURISM VIRTUAL CONFERENCE June 10, 2020 DETAILS & REGISTRATION

Tourism is the major source of foreign income in her home country and she said that if contact-tracing apps are introduced by individual countries it would fail to help the tourism sector recover quickly enough.

Greece, with a population of 9m, has escaped the fate of many European countries with fewer that 200 deaths. But the government is desperate to reopen its supply of foreign income on which its economy, still damaged from the 2008 crash, relies so heavily.

Tourism generates over a quarter of Greece’s gross domestic product, and employs more than 400,000 people. More importantly, 90 per cent of that tourism revenue comes from foreign visitors.

Since 2008 there has been criticism that Greece has relied too heavily on tourism – with the exception of shipping (7 per cent GDP) – and the pandemic has destroyed its biggest foreign income sector.

Greece like many countries across the world, has suffered relatively few cases of Covi-19 but remains unable to receive guest and needs an urgent solution to the pandemic.

Elenena Kountoura MEP is a panellist on the midday session of the conference Rethinking Investments for Better Preparedness Against Potential Future Catastrophes.

Moderated by Peter Greenberg (CBS News), panellists will also include Hon. Edmund Bartlett, Minister of Tourism Jamaica, whose country has also suffered relatively low Covid-19 death but has been isolated from the world during the pandemic and relies heavily on tourism income.

Other panellist include Dr. Peter Tarlow, President, Safer Tourism Nicolas Mayer, PWC Industry Leader Hospitality and Tourism EMEA & Managing Partner Global Center of Excellence Tourism & Hospitality.

They will discuss investment and protection for the future. They will discuss options for building resilience and sustainability through new financing mechanisms and examine the support offered by different governments in the wake of Covid-19. What are the options for partnerships with the IMF / IFC / Government and the private sector?

Register Free to be part of the virtual summit on June 10, 2020, begins 9.15am (GMT+1) HERE

 
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theFuture of Travel June 10

REGISTER The ITIC-WTM virtual conference is FREE to attend online.

It focuses on three themes:

1. Health: dealing with Covid-19, and how we restore travellers’ confidence and rebuild business.

2. Investment: understanding the financial mechanisms that allow you to survive and rebuild.

3. Future: This may not be the last crisis, how can you prepare for any future global catastrophe

This virtual summit uses the latest video technology, viewable on your browser, will bring together more than 2,000 attendees in an interactive environment.

PRESS RELEASE: WTM London partners with ITIC Virtual Summit

WTM London partners with ITIC Virtual Summit

WTM London partners with ITIC Virtual Summit
 

A virtual conference called “The Future Of Travel & Tourism – Financial Strategies for Recovery” takes place on Wednesday June 10th from 9:15am to 2:15pm (BST).

Organised by the International Tourism and Investment Conference (ITIC) in partnership with WTM London, the virtual summit considers how this vital economic sector will emerge from COVID-19 and what is needed to ensure growth.

Travel, tourism and hospitality are at the centre of an unprecedented business collapse as the COVID-19 pandemic changed the world forever in 2020.

Businesses that depend on tourism and travel are desperate to reopen and begin to operate under the “new normal”.

Under the chairmanship of Dr Taleb Rifai, former Secretary General of UNWTO, the virtual summit will feature prominent and inspirational speakers.

It will bring together experts from the health sector, tourism ministers, policy-makers and leaders from the travel and tourism sector – connecting them with investors, investment bankers and private equity firms to discuss financial solutions and preparedness to reopen the tourism industry for a better future.

WTM London’s Senior Exhibition Director, Simon Press, says:

“WTM London is honoured to partner with ITIC and is committed to support the travel industry as it adapts to the unique challenges of COVID and prepares for recovery – providing platforms for the global travel and tourism industry to share insights.

“Annually, WTM London connects travel industry professionals from 182 countries, offering unrivalled commercial opportunities and business insights and ITIC Virtual Summit will carry on our conversation on how to reopen the tourism industry.

“In 2019, our show contributed to a total of £3.75 billion worth of travel industry business deals being signed. This year, the recovery of the travel industry starts at WTM London.

“Our conversation on June 10 will gather great minds discussing the trends that will determine the future of the tourism industry.”

ITIC Virtual Summit focuses on three themes:

  • Health: dealing with Covid-19, and how we restore travellers’ confidence and rebuild business.
  • Investment: understanding the financial mechanisms that allow you to survive and rebuild.
  • Future: This may not be the last crisis, how can you prepare for any future global catastrophe

The current status of tourism will be discussed, unravelling how the responses of governments and the tourism industry in different countries have been effective and analysing the intricacies of the financial support plans already introduced.

Leading health experts have been invited to participate in the panel discussions to shed new light about the latest vaccine research that could accelerate the recovery of the travel and tourism industry by restoring business confidence.

The thought-provoking themes on the agenda are geared towards the future paradigm shift. Enriching panel discussions will debate how destinations can secure sustainable investment and how businesses should reposition for recovery when the pandemic comes under control.

Former Secretary General of UNWTO, Dr. Taleb Rifai says:

“We live today in unusual and difficult times. Who would have imagined just three months ago that we would only be able to hold an event like this online?

“We are living in a world where uncertainty has prompted so much fear and panic that no one knows what tomorrow will bring.

“As the pandemic threat became clear, governments intervened aggressively – though to varying degrees. Initially the focus was on containment and healthcare for the infected.

“But as the long-term threat became clear, the focus moved to life after containment which, without a cure, is also a vital part of living.

“As we emerge from this initial phase we must aim for life with dignity, prosperity and hope. So, there is a great need to support economic recovery as a matter of urgency and also to implement measures that restore confidence and trust in the hearts and minds of people.

“This conference is, therefore, very timely and ITIC and WTM London have joined hands to bring this Virtual Summit to you. We must start planning for tomorrow and we must introduce ways and means of bringing back a sense of normality to the world in which we live.

“This is an important summit not just because of the subject matters but more significantly, its timing.

“I am sure we are all going to come out of this summit a little more confident about the direction in which we are headed.”

Join us and register – EVENTBRITE.

For more information contact info@itic.uk or visit our conference website https://itic.uk/investment-summit-home/.

Emirates chief says Covid recovery could take four years

Industry News: 1st June 2020

Emirates Airline President Tim Clark said on Monday it could take the airline four years to rebuild its network that has been decimated by the coronavirus pandemic.

He was speaking during the opening session of three days of webinars and conferences organised by Arabian Travel Market, which went virtual after pandemic restrictions in Dubai. 

“I think probably by the year 2022/23, 2023/24 we will see things coming back to some degree of normality and Emirates will be operating its network as it was and hopefully as successfully as it was,” he said in the webcast interview.

His interview came less than 24 hours after his airline announced it plans to cut jobs due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but had not given numbers.

Emirates issued a statement yesterday saying: “We have looked at all of the possible scenarios in order to maintain our business operations, but have come to the conclusion that unfortunately we have to say goodbye to some of the wonderful people who have worked for us.”

Emirates employs more than 100,000 people and operates a fleet of 270 wide-body aircraft. In March it confirmed salaries would be cut between 25 and 50 per cent after the fleet was grounded.

“The current pandemic has impacted many industries around the world,” said Emirates in its release.

Emirates had already said on May 10 that it would take at least 18 months for travel demand to return to “a semblance of normalcy”, even after reporting windfall profits before the pandemic.

The carrier had suspended flights on March 22 before resuming certain services two weeks later.

Last week, it began operating scheduled, but partial, services to a number of airports, mostly European

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) forecast in April that air traffic in the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) will fall by more than half this year.

 
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Final list of speakers revealed for the future of travel & tourism Middle East conference

Industry News 29th May, 2020

This week HE Issam Kazim, CEO of Dubai Corporation for Tourism and Commerce, has confirmed his attendance at a conference considering the future of travel and tourism in the Middle East.

The event – part of Arabian Travel Market’s three-days of webinars and conferences – will discuss sustainable investment measures for the region’s travel & tourism sector alongside strategies to restore travellers’ confidence and move forward post-pandemic.

He will talk about his vision for Dubai’s success alongside leaders from across the region:

Panel Discussion: Initiatives to revive the travel and tourism industry and secure sustainable investment in the region?

Moderator: Rajan Datar, Presenter and Broadcaster BBC

Speakers

  • HE Marwan Bin Jassim Al Sarkal, Executive Chairman Sharjah Investment and Development Authority
  • His Excellency Khalid Jasim Al Midfa, Chairman, Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority (SCTDA)
  • HE Saleh Al Gezeiry, Director General for Ajman Tourism
  • Mr. Majed M. Alghanim Tourism & Quality of Life Managing Director, Ministry of Investment, Saudi Arabia 
  • Mr. Nicolas Mayer, PWC Industry Leader Hospitality and Tourism EMEA & Managing Partner Global Center of Excellence Tourism & Hospitality

This is one of three sessions on the day and you can be part of the event with free registration.

Restructuring to Attract Sustainable Investment and Customers in the New World Order.

Register HERE

READ MORE ABOUT OUR CONFERENCE HERE

READ MORE ABOUT Arabian Travel Market’s Virtual Programme 1 – 3 June , 2020 HERE

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Europe: flight searches online go up as governments relax Covid lockdowns

 

Industry News 28th May 2020

Flight searches in Europe have plummeted by more than 90 per cent but there are signs that as lockdown restrictions are relaxed, people are preparing to fly again.

And Greece – which escaped the worst of the virus – has becomre a key target for people researching holidays online, according to digital audience analyst Sojern. 

It examines and reports travel intent by internet use, as measured by searches on airline websites, online travel agencies and metasearch.

This week Sojern reported that while bookings in Europe are down by more than 90 per cent in most countries, Greece is a front runner in the recovery forecast.

Sojern has released its latest findings on how travel trends in Europe are being impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak. The most recent insights, from data collected on Tuesday (26 May), are based on over 350 million traveller profiles and billions of travel intent signals.

Flight searches and bookings remain down overall, however we are beginning to see positive signals that travel intent is improving in some markets that have announced an easing of travel restrictions. We will look deeper into these countries in the next section.

 

Global flight searches to key European markets

 

Global flight bookings to key European markets

 

European travellers itching to get away to newly-opened markets

In particular, Greece stands out with a major uptick in global flight searches and bookings in the last week, after announcing that Athens will be open to tourists on 15 June, and that the Greek islands will be open as of 1 July.

But there are other countries hoping to attract European travellers for their usually-busy summer season. In addition to the re-opening of Greece, we know that Italy will mostly reopen on 3 June (with some staggered re-openings in places like Sardinia), while Cyprus and Poland will reopen from 15 June. At present, these countries do not appear to have any self-isolation restrictions from arriving travellers.

When looking at future departure months, while we see longer term recovery nearer the end of the year, we are seeing spikes in regional flight searches to these countries in June.

 

European flight searches to reopening markets

And when we look at bookings to these countries made in the last 14 days, we see that many Europeans have booked travel in July, in line with the reopening of borders. While these spikes are still well down when compared year-over-year, it is a positive sign that we see these upticks in travel searches and bookings so quickly after government announcements. Europeans remain eager to enjoy a summer holiday abroad.

 

European flight bookings to reopening markets

 

Government policies impact European travel intent to the UK, but domestic intent is strong

Last week, the UK announced that starting 8 June, arrivals into the UK will need to go into a 14-day self-isolation, which could be a deterrent to those looking to travel to the UK in the coming months. As a result, with the exception of a small spike in June, European travel intent to the UK remains well below that of the European countries who are opening their borders without any self-isolation rules. For example, the small spike in June is still 86% down YOY, whereas for Greece in the same month, travel intent is only down 31% YOY.

 

European flight searches to UK, future departure months

On a positive note, it does appear that domestic travel within the UK is really starting to improve. We’ve indexed to the first week in April, when Europe was perhaps in the worst phase of the virus, lockdowns were strictest, and travel intent was at its lowest. We now see that searches for travel within the UK are up over 70% from the first week in April. While the government has not lifted restrictions on non-essential travel, it appears that staycations and ‘near-cations’ will be the name of the game once travel is allowed in the UK.

 

Travel intent to the UK, indexed to 5 April

 

 

We will continue to share more insights as we monitor the situation. At the moment, we see that European countries that are starting to reopen their borders without any restrictions are reaping the benefits of growing travel intent, opposed to those countries who are implementing self-isolation restrictions on arrivals. These forward-looking insights will hopefully help travel marketers shape their strategies when the industry starts to recover from this outbreak.

 

 
 
 
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Business chiefs call on UK government to scrap 14-day quarantine

Industry News: 28th May 2020

Business leaders have called on UK government to scrap its 14-day quarantine on visitors and concentrate on ‘air bridges’ with countries deemed safe.

Low risk visitors would avoid the need for quarantine, due for introduction on June 8, otherwise they warn British business will suffer serious damage and it will be left out of other countries co-operation. 

Yesterday business groups wrote to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, saying the 14-day quarantine on all air passengers arriving in the UK will have “serious consequences” for the economy. 

In a letter to the prime minister, bosses of airlines including EasyJet, Tui, Jet2 and Virgin Atlantic, as well as industry bodies Airlines UK, the British Chambers of Commerce, UK Hospitality and manufacturing association Made UK said that while they fully support the government’s commitment to public health, they have “serious reservations” about a “blanket approach” to all arrivals into Britain.

So-called ‘air bridges’ would allow visitors from countries where coronavirus infection rates are low into the UK, without having to self-isolate for two weeks.

Instead, they are asking for a more “targeted, risk-based” approach when establishing air links with countries that have high infection rates from the pandemic.

“The alternative risks major damage to the arteries of UK trade with key industry supply chains, whilst pushing the UK to the back of the queue as states begin conversations for opening up their borders,” says the letter.

Home Secretary Pritti Patel announced quaratine plan details on Friday. She said: “We recognise how hard these changes will be for our travel and leisure sectors, who are already struggling in these unprecedented times.

“Across government, we continue to work with them and support what is an incredibly dynamic sector to find new ways to reopen international travel and tourism in a safe and responsible way.”

She added that the 14-day self-isolation rule will be reviewed every three weeks.

Some airlines have announced plans to increase flight numbers this summer after air travel ground to a virtual halt because of the coronavirus lockdowns imposed by many governments.

However, some have argued that the two-week-long quarantine will put people off travel and be difficult to enforce. 

 
 
 
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Why Germans are optimistic about foreign holidays this year

Industry News: 27th May 2020

Germany is planning to lift a travel warning for its 26 fellow EU countries plus Britain, Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Liechtenstein from June 15 providing infection rates remain under control, according to a government source in Berlin speaking to Reuters 

Under the new proposal, the general travel warning that has been in place since March 17 would be replaced by individual advice tailored to the spread of the pandemic in each country, potentially allowing Germans to holiday abroad this summer.

In another positive move, people living in Norway, Sweden, Finland and Germany can now visit partners in Denmark by signing a simple declaration rather than having to provide photos, phone records and other proof of a relationship, the Danish justice minister, Nick Hækkerup, said.

The premiers of Germany’s 16 states are due to discuss with the chancellor, Angela Merkel, on Wednesday how to further relax restrictions aimed at containing Covid-19 after its initial relaxation, two weeks ago, showed no significant impact on infections.

More German federal states have announced unilateral steps to loosen restrictions, creating a patchwork of wildly varying rules on physical distancing within Germany and moving control away from Chancellor Merkel.

Winfried Kretschmann, the premier of Baden-Württemberg, said on Tuesday his state would allow seated public events with up to 100 people from 1 June. Other states
made similar announcements, with the mayor of Hamburg saying the the city state would soon reopen cinemas, open-air swimming pools and gyms.

According to The Guardian in the UK, there was no official confirmation of a report, citing a draft document, in the Bild tabloid that Merkel, under pressure from state premiers, had already agreed to ease some remaining rules – including on the numbers of visitors allowed in people’s homes – by June 29 instead of July 5, as originally planned.

 
 

 

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German government gives Lufthansa €9 billion bailout

Industry News: 26th May 2020 The German government threw Lufthansa (LHAG.DE) a 9 billion euro ($9.8 billion) lifeline on Monday (25 May), agreeing a bailout which gives Berlin a veto in the event of a hostile bid for the airline. The largest German corporate rescue since the coronavirus crisis struck will see the government get a 20 per cent stake, which could rise to 25 per cent plus one share in the event of a takeover attempt, as it seeks to protect thousands of jobs, according to a report by the Reuters news agency. Lufthansa has been locked in talks with Berlin for weeks over aid it needs to survive an expected protracted travel slump, with the airline wrangling over how much control to yield in return for financial support. Germany’s central government has spent decades offloading stakes in companies, but remains a large shareholder in former state monopolies such as Deutsche Post and Deutsche Telekom. Berlin also still has a 15 per cent holding in Commerzbank (CBKG.DE), which it took on during the global financial crisis. Other airlines including Franco-Dutch Air France-KLM (AIRF.PA) and U.S. carriers American Airlines (AAL.O), United Airlines (UAL.O) and Delta Air Lines (DAL.N) have also sought state aid after the coronavirus hit global travel. Germany’s Finance and Economy Ministries said on Monday that Lufthansa, whose shares closed up 7.5 per cent at 8.64 euros, had been operationally healthy and profitable with good prospects, but had run into trouble because of the pandemic.

 

 
 
 

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Saudi Arabia begins releasing lockdown with end in four weeks

Industry News: 26th May 2020

Saudi Arabia will begin easing its coronavirus curfew from Thursday, it has been announced.

Health Minister Tawfiq Al Rabiah said the easing of restrictions will be undertaken in phases and will depend on how the spread of the virus pans out this week. 

The first phase will begin with expanding capacity to serve “critical patients” and the second will include intensifying Covid-19 tests and early detection.

Speaking a a press conference on Monday, the health minister said the Saudi people had displayed a “high amount of responsibility in practising social distancing.” 

“After five months since this pandemic started, where the global health systems faced great difficulties in dealing with it, our society has become today more aware of this virus and implementing the measures of the social distancing, as it is a new experience for all of us,” he said in remarks quoted by the Saudi Press Agency

Restrictions in place due to coronavirus, including bans on domestic travel, holding prayers in mosques, and workplace attendance in both government and private sector will be lifted, starting May 31, the statement added.

The Kingdom will reopen all mosques outside Mecca from May 31 until June 20 in one of a number of measures announced by the SPA.

From June 21, the Kingdom expects to lift the lockdown entirely and return to normal life, according to SPA.

Al Rabiah said that people should continue taking precautionary measures while leaving their homes by using face masks and hand gloves.

The Health Ministry recorded nine new deaths and 2,235 new cases of coronavirus in the Kingdom on Monday.

The new deaths have increased the Covid-19-related toll in Saudi Arabia to 399 and the total number of confirmed cases to 74,795. 

The number of recoveries has risen to 2,148, taking the total number of recovered cases to 45,668.

The Covid-19 pandemic has severely damaged the Kingdom’s plan to boost its tourism income and create new jobs. In October 2019, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia revealed its 2030 plan aiming for 10 per cent of GDP to come from tourism within 10 years, up from 3 per cent, building on its enormous annual religious pilgrimage visitors. The Kingdom also set a target of international and domestic visits of 100 million a year by 2030, attracting significant foreign and domestic investment and creating a million jobs.

 
 

 

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