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Saudi Tourism Minister Applauds Approved Destination Status with China

Written by Linda Hohnholz

The Saudi Arabia Minister of Tourism says an official Approved Destination Status (ADS) is testament to the strong relationship between Saudi Arabia and China.

Saudi Arabia announced the official Approved Destination Status (ADS), effective July 1, following its participation in the second China roadshow and ITB China in Shanghai. This move underscores Saudi Arabia’s commitment to becoming a strategic economic partner with China, unlocking new opportunities across the tourism sector and fostering mutual understanding, friendship, and economic development for both nations.

The ADS designation marks a significant milestone for group travel to Saudi Arabia. As the Kingdom aims to make China its third largest source market for international arrivals by 2030, Saudi Arabia has proactively prepared to be “China-ready”. This includes significantly increasing direct flights since 2023, introducing tailored products, and forming strategic partnerships to enhance group and Flexible Independent Travel (FIT) experiences.

Saudi Minister of Tourism Ahmed Al-Khateeb remarked, “The official ADS status demonstrates Saudi Arabia’s readiness for Chinese visitors and our progress toward making China our third largest tourism market by 2030. The Saudi Tourism Authority has played a crucial role in visa facilitation, reduced fees, improving air connectivity, and ensuring destination readiness with Mandarin-language information available on www.visitsaudi.cn, Mandarin signage at airports, and Mandarin-speaking tour guides and hotel staff.”

Abdulrahman Ahmad Al-Harbi, Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador to China, emphasized:

CEO of Saudi Tourism Authority Fahd Hamidaddin added, “Saudi’s approval as a tourist destination for Chinese visitors reflects our continuous efforts and participation in trade shows and conferences, leading to agreements with Chinese organizations. We strive to provide a seamless, enjoyable, and safe experience for Chinese tourists, including streamlined visa procedures, increased flight capacity, and Mandarin integration across airports, destinations, tourist sites, and digital platforms like the ‘Visit Saudi’ website. Partnerships with trusted Chinese brands such as UnionPay, Trip.com, Huawei, and Tencent further enhance our offerings.”

Saudi Arabia aims to attract five million Chinese tourists by 2030, enhancing connectivity with new direct flights by Air China, China Eastern, and China Southern, in addition to existing Saudia flights. These initiatives represent a 130% increase in inbound seat capacity, doubling weekly flight frequency compared to a year ago.