The Royal Commission for AlUla (RCU) recently unveiled the destination to the Indian market. AlUla is a living museum that holds 200,000 years of largely unexplored human history. The vast desert landscape features preserved tombs, sandstone outcrops, historic dwellings and monuments, both natural and human-made.
Speaking about the USP of the destination, Tyler Gosnell, Head of International Marketing, The Royal Commission for AlUla, said, “There are a number of established destinations in and around this region, but AlUla is uniquely positioned. Saudi Arabia is largely unexplored outside, religious destinations. There are a very few unexplored untouched destinations across the globe, we are one of those which is our key USP. Hegra is one of the fist UNESCO heritage sites in Saudi Arabia. We have thousands of years of history and it’s a breathtaking and natural setting which is incredible. Besides, we also have unique adventure and wellness tourism in AlUla. This a true authentic destination which has a lot to offer to the Indian travellers.”
The destination is looking to tap experienced travellers with a cultural and historic interest. India is one of the prime markets for AlUla.“We are looking at a large segment opportunity, we are looking at people with strong interest in culture and heritage and we are looking at intrepid voyager and people who want to explore, millennials, we are looking at various segments. We want to tap the experienced traveller with higher income and interest in heritage and history. We continue to develop, and we will add on more experiences,” Gosnell opined.
AlUla is establishing itself as an adventure tourism destination with more experiences opening over the coming months. AlUla’s new zipline experience is one of the longest in the world. Other adventure experiences include a range of hiking trails, cycling trails, a bike park, and horse treks. “Adventure is a key part of our focus with one of the fastest ziplining. Also, we have the cycling and hiking trails which are very popular. We also have other adventure activities such as star gazing and soft adventure. In adventure we have an array of activities for each kind of travellers,” Gosnell informed.
The destination also boasts of its unique MICE infrastructure. Maraya Concert Hall in AlUla is one of the largest mirrored structures. AlUla is also looking to tap the Indian weddings segment.
Commenting on MICE and events tourism, he said: “We are aggressively looking at MICE and weddings from India market. At AlUla we have Maraya, which is the performing arts venue. It is the largest mirror building and this venue provides unforgettable experience. We are waiting for the first Indian wedding to happen. Also, no two events will be the same in terms of experience. We also have a rooftop restaurant at Maraya, which has one of the best views. We also want to develop as an event-based destination. Winter at Tantora Festival takes place at this venue and we get world class artists and promote the destination. We have different type of activities in summer as well and the events schedule will continue.”
Recently, AlUla International Airport has been approved to receive international flights. RCU has increased the airport’s annual capacity by 300 per cent from 100,000 to 400,000 passengers per year making it a fifth largest airport in Saudi Arabia. Gosnell added, “In terms of connectivity, we have a short flight from Jeddah, Riyadh and Dammam to AlUla. Also, travellers can drive to AlUla from the major cities in Saudi Arabia and they can drive along the picturesque Red Sea.”
On the hospitality scenario in the region, he informed, “We cater to midscale and luxury markets. As it is an emerging destination there are a lot of customisation which needs to take place. It is certainly our short to medium term that we are looking at developing AlUla as a High-profile destination. We will have 500 room by end of the year and next year 1000 and by 2035 we have 10,000.”