Following a successful stint as chief executive of the Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority, Haitham Mattar last year moved to a new role in Saudi Arabia.
The Middle Eastern destination has been embarking on a programme – known as Vision 2030 – designed to overhaul its economy, diversifying away from a reliance on oil.
The development of the tourism sector is expected to play a key role in the strategy, and, as senior advisor to the Saudi Commission for Tourism & National Heritage, Mattar is well placed to utilise his expertise.
Speaking to Amy Kitchingman for Breaking Travel News, he reveals “the success of any destination comes down to strategy, and any destination without a tourism strategy is a recipe for failure”.
For Saudi, this means an increase in the availability of visas, and a more welcoming atmosphere for international travellers.
As Mattar explains: “Saudi has an extensive culture, a deep-rooted history, great heritage, beautiful nature and natural assets including beaches, mountains and stunning dessert.
“Today we are focusing on the short- to medium-term, where by 2022 we aim to see 62 million visitors each year, rising to 100 million annually by 2030.
“The key focus today is on promoting the cultural…