alula wtm

WTM 2021: AlUla gears up for growth in 2022

Tyler Gosnell, head of global markets for the destination, gave a rundown of all things AlUla at WTM 2021. 

Following the launch of their 'AlUla Specialist' training programme, and one-year anniversary of re-opening following the Covid-19 pandemic, Tyler Gosnell, head of global markets for AlUla, gave a rundown of what the year ahead holds at World Travel Market 2021. 

"Reopening in October 2020 was a big milestone. Since then, it's been an important time for AlUla, adding to the destination portfolio, renovating historic heritage sites and taking opportunities with new projects to make an impact across local communities."

These additions include the recently reopened Old Town heritage site, which has welcomed UNESCO heritage tours, new restaurants and retail outlets. Visitors experiencing the Old Town since its reopening have confirmed it's a truly authentic experience- from the area's century-spanning history to local stalls that have operated for generations awaiting guests. Gosnell said of the reception to Old Town's reopening, "It's a really authentic homage to the flavour and atmosphere that the region has been home to for centuries."

"For 2022, we're looking at pushing the destination pillars to the forefront of the AlUla experience. Heritage and culture are, of course, paramount- with all four UNESCO World Heritage sites now operational, guests can really get a taste of the area's timelines. Sites span from 100 BCE into Islamic history and the modern day. AlUla is home to Hegra- the archaelogical site that marked Saudi Arabia's first UNESCO-protected site.

"We're also expanding our Adventure offering- bringing guests in touch with AlUla's natural wonders. The AlUla zipline experience is getting an extension, and with AlUla home to the region's darkest skies, we're going to offer a load of stargazing experiences. Not only are these a natural marvel, but they're truly a window into Arabic and Bedouin culture and heritage, who used the starry nights to establish weather patterns."

These pillars will begin to be pushed to the forefront with AlUla's festival season. Kicking off in December, just in time of the destination's high season from November to March, 'AlUla Skies' will host vintage aeroplanes, hot air balloons and unique stargazing experiences to bring guests to new heights. 'AlUla Moments' will capture the unique 'take-your-breath-away' experiences on offer in the destination, with 'AlUla Arts' inviting local artists to create semi-permanent and permanent installations throughout the region. Finally, a wellness festival will craft moments of zen with yoga and wellness experiences.

"We're really trying to craft a unique identity for AlUla."

On the destination's recently-launched training programme, Gosnell added: "We've had a really good reception from UK agents especially. We've found it's a great resource for beginners and those with experience in the Middle East who have maybe overlooked AlUla's unique position in the region."

In 2022, the destination is looking to integrate with Saudi Arabian FAM trips for those who haven't experienced the Middle East to see all AlUla has to offer.

Keep up to date with all the latest news from World Travel Market 2021 with Travel Bulletin's live coverage. 

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