AlUla goes it alone with independent stand and destination development at WTM
Sherif Elhalafawy, PR manager for the Destination Management and Marketing Office at the Royal Commission for AlUla, spotlighted the destination's all-in approach to the UK market at WTM 2023.
"This year marks our first standalone booth, not as part of Saudi Tourism Authority. We have brought along eight partners, varying between hotels, tour operators and experiences.
"It was really important for us to have a greater presence here. We've seen a lot of attention and growth in the international market, especially from Europe: last year, we achieved 11% of our total visitation from Europe, with 180,000 visitors. This year, we are forecasting 250,000."
AlUla's presence at WTM is reflective of a wider offering as a destination: "This year, our offering is bigger and our development projects are bigger.
"We are facing a huge increase in the number of rooms. Our current capacity of inventory is 518 keys, increasing by the end of this year to be 682, and by the end of next year, it's going to be 1,200-plus.
"All of our developments are following strict guidelines of sustainability, and all of them have seen a lot of attention, specifically from the UK market. The market itself is looking for sustainable experiences and we're ready to cater for that."
And on market demands, AlUla is uniquely positioned to cater for high-end, luxury clientele.
"Our targeted audience are affluent travellers in search of luxury experiences, wanderlust nomads, and lux-seekers. These travellers are searching for exclusivity and their own space: exactly what we're offering. We're not chasing mass tourism, our events, accommodation and experiences almost always offer limited numbers.
"That, combined with the destination's hidden experiences, means everyone gets their own unique, hidden and exclusive experience in AlUla."