Saudi Tourism Authority’s Asia-Pacific Region President Al-Hassan Al-Dabbagh has said that Saud Arabia and Pakistan have common culture and values and they have enjoyed close brotherly relations since the inception of Pakistan in 1947.
“We are eager to host more Pakistanis in Saudi Arabia; we will provide facilities to pilgrims and facilitate access to more destinations,” he said.
The Nusuk application will facilitate Pakistanis in obtaining visas, air tickets and hotel bookings along with transportation and permits required for holy places.
Under the new tourism promotion strategy, the number of Pakistani Umrah pilgrims is expected to reach 3.5 million annually by 2030.
A high-level delegation of Saudi Arabia, led by Minister of Hajj and Umrah Dr Tawfiq bin Fawzan Al-Rabi’ah, visited Pakistan. Al-Hassan Al-Dabbagh, who was part of the delegation, highlighted the importance of Pakistan in the tourism promotion strategy of Saudi Arabia in an interview with The Express Tribune.
He called Pakistan a friendly nation and its people warm hosts. Around two million Pakistanis live in Saudi Arabia and are part of the Saudi society.
He said that Pakistan was the fourth largest country in terms of the number of visitors to Saudi Arabia while it is the largest country in the Asia-Pacific region.
One million Pakistanis have traveled to Saudi Arabia so far this year and the number is estimated to increase to 3.5 million by 2030.
Highlighting Saudi Arabia’s new strategy of providing travel facilities to Umrah pilgrims, Al-Dabbagh said “we have an ambitious vision to develop Saudi Arabia’s tourism sector. This vision consists of three foundations – a thriving economy, an ambitious nation and a viable society”.
Under the vision, Saudi Arabia aims to be among the top tourism destinations, for which “we want to host more Muslims from the world over”.
He introduced ‘Nusuk.SA’, a digital application for Muslims traveling to Saudi Arabia, offering easy access to Umrah pilgrim visa, flight tickets, hotel bookings and entry permits to holy places.
In addition, it provides guidance on important Islamic historical sites around Makkah and Madinah, which can be obtained in many languages including Urdu.
A major roadshow in Karachi promoted the Nusuk application, provided training to hotel operators, Umrah service providers, trading partners, and friends. Some 35 Saudi partners, who provide services to Umrah pilgrims of Pakistan, participated.
Al-Dabbagh stated that Saudi Arabia had significant plans to make Pakistan a crucial and strategic market.
The Pakistani market consists of three segments of Umrah pilgrims – those who perform the pilgrimage during Ramazan who stay for extended periods, those who go in summer vacations, and the ones who stay briefly on important religious days like Shab-e-Mairaj and the birth of the Prophet.
He claimed that special features had been incorporated into the Nusuk application in order to give all three categories of Pakistanis the maximum number of amenities.
About 120 different types of services will be linked to this application in the upcoming year, and Nusuk will serve as a gateway for pilgrims to perform Umrah and visit other places in Saudi Arabia.
“We aim to encourage Pakistani families to spend holidays in Saudi Arabia, perform Umrah and also visit other attractions that are being promoted.”
Saudi Arabia also has countless recreational activities that make it the “True Home of Arabia”, including six Unesco world heritage sites and 10,000 archaeological sites.
Air connections between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia will increase, better deals will be available and the Umrah visa scheme will be effective for more destinations, he said.
He also assured that Pakistani Umrah pilgrims would frequently receive good news about other travel facilities via Nusuk application.
“Access will be expanded together with our trade partners in Pakistan and special packages will be offered as per needs of each segment.”
He added that a significant campaign would be launched to promote major locations in Saudi Arabia, including the simplicity of Umrah and Nusuk applications, and that influencers, celebrities and bloggers from Saudi Arabia would also be brought to Pakistan as part of the effort.
Source : Tribune