Features Interviews

‘We are going to remain invested in India for the long-haul’

Saudi Arabia’s hidden gem of AlUla has forayed in the Indian market with its four pillars of Heritage, Adventure, Art & Culture and Nature. Tyler Gosnell, Head of International Destination Management and Marketing Office, The Royal Commission of AlUla in an interaction with Disha Shah Ghosh spoke about their outreach programme, investment and target segment.

Q. Many surveys have pointed out that Indian consumers are looking for new experiential products. How does AlUla fit in the bill in terms of catering to varied tourist profile?
AlUla is a place of extraordinary human and natural heritage. AlUla is home to a series of fascinating historical and archaeological sites. It is a perfect destination for family, adventure-seekers, honeymooners and MICE. AlUla is a year-round luxury destination rich in heritage, art and culture. The world’s masterpiece, AlUla, is a living museum that holds 200,000 years of largely unexplored human history. The four key pillars of AlUla are Heritage, Adventure, Art & Culture and Nature.

For the discerning Indian travellers, AlUla has a wide range of accommodations from luxury accommodations with villas to Recreational Vehicles catering to various categories of travellers. One can plan a 2-3 days itinerary to experience AlUla covering heritage sites, adventure and outdoor activities and other tourism products. One can also spend a week in AlUla and include a road trip experience with sun and sea. AlUla’s vast open spaces provide the perfect backdrop for safe, fun, exploration with more experiences opening up over the coming months. AlUla’s new zipline experience has caused quite a stir among adventure-seeking travellers.

One of the longest in the world, visitors will race along to a speed of over 100km/h while enjoying the incredible scenery of the Hijaz Mountain range – this one is not for the faint-hearted. Other adventure experiences include a range of hiking trails, cycling trails, a bike park, and horse treks. Far away from city lights in the vast open space of AlUla’s remote Gharameel desert lands, a magical evening of stargazing is a must-do experience for nature lovers. Led by a star expert, visitors will learn about the constellations and their relation to the ancient land’s culture and history as they marvel at the brilliance of the dark sky sprinkled with infinite stars.

Q. In terms of trade and media outreach in India, enumerate on your action plan.?
We are working on creating partnerships with airlines, media and trade engagement to introduce AlUla as a premier destination in the minds of Indian travellers. Once the world reaches the recovery stage, our on ground teams would organise in-person events, roadshows and sales meets. The key part of this exercise would be to bring AlUla suppliers for media and trade engagement, and our sales mission. On the digital marketing front, we will focus on travel trade tactical campaigns. We will also see our flag carrier, Saudia playing a key role in all our engagement activities.

Q. Do you have plan to attract film production companies to AlUla?
Yes, there is an organisation within the destination marketing team, which focuses on bringing and coordinating for film shoots, and they work closely with our CEO on establishing production capabilities, educational videos, and content launch through commercials and partnerships. We certainly want to focus on Bollywood films because they are impactful, and it will be exciting to see AlUla in a Bollywood film.

Q. In terms of arrivals, what is your target for the coming five years from India?
We don’t have a specific target for the next five years as it is difficult to access the market during Covid. We see that the short-term opportunity of those willing to travel to AlUla will be 1.6 million Indian visitors. That’s a range looking at the total population, considering the affluent segment size that is more of our target, which in our assessment is 13.8 million. It certainly is a fraction of the Indian population, but reaching the right people with the right profile to discover AlUla is a special opportunity for that segment.

Q. What kind of investment can we expect from you in the Indian market?
We are committed and invested in the Indian market with an on-ground team of Beautiful Planet, and also investing in partnerships with the likes of Thomas Cook, SOTC, and Saudia Airlines. We are continuing to invest in India as we see it as a major opportunity. We understand India is a big religious market, and that is another area for us to work with trade partners. We are going to remain invested in India for the long-haul. India definitely ranks pretty highly on our 11 global source markets list.

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