The Royal Commission for AlUla (RCU) has announced the approval by the General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) to start receiving international flights at AlUla International Airport.
The green light comes after AlUla Airport carried out a major expansion programme to become the fifth largest airport in the kingdom.
Royal Commission for AlUla and Saudi flag carrier Saudia ink agreement to promote historic tourist destination
International flights to and from the Gulf kingdom are currently suspended due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and are expected to resume in mid-May.
The RCU said the expansion has tripled the airport’s capacity and can now receive 15 commercial flights at the same time.
Its capacity has increased from 100,000 passengers to 400,000 passengers per year.
The development of the Airport is a key element of RCU’s strategy to elevate AlUla to become a global destination for heritage, culture, history, and natural tourism, as well as enhancing its role as an important logistical centre in northwestern Saudi Arabia.
The strategy also aims to attract two million visitors every year to AlUla and contribute to raising the kingdom’s GDP by SR120 million by 2035.
In January, the RCU and Saudi flag carrier Saudia signed an agreement to boost domestic tourism at the historic destination.
The SR4 million memorandum of understanding includes joint marketing and promotional activity to ensure AlUla becomes a year-round attraction for Saudi residents in 2021.
Also in January, the RCU launched its first destination brand campaign for the heritage and culture centrepiece of Saudi Arabia.
Royal commission for AlUla launches its first destination brand campaign for the Saudi heritage and culture centrepiece
The campaign, developed by RCU with creative partners Leo Burnett, includes a 90 minute film directed by renowned cinematographer Bruno Aveillan and a suite of digital assets under the concept of The World’s Masterpiece.
In what is hoped will be a year of travel recovery, AlUla’s new brand campaign is targeting domestic travellers and aimed at increasing the number of visitors.
It is hoped that the campaign will help to achieve RCU’s visitor projections of 90,000 for 2021 and 130,000 for 2022.
AlUla re-opened key heritage sites to visitors in October as a new year-round offer.
Located 1,100km from Riyadh, AlUla covers 22,561 sq km and includes a lush oasis valley, towering sandstone mountains and ancient cultural heritage sites dating back thousands of years to when the Lihyan and Nabataean kingdoms reigned.
The most well-known and recognised site in AlUla is Hegra, Saudi Arabia’s first UNESCO World Heritage site. A 52-hectare ancient city, Hegra was the principal southern city of the Nabataean Kingdom and is comprised of more than 100 well preserved tombs with elaborate facades cut out of the sandstone outcrops surrounding the walled urban settlement.
Current research also suggests Hegra was the most southern outpost of the Roman Empire after conquering the Nabataeans.
In addition to Hegra, AlUla is home to historical and archaeological sites such as Ancient Dadan, the capital of the Dadan and Lihyan Kingdoms; thousands of ancient rock art sites and inscriptions at Jabal Ikmah; Old Town, a labyrinth of more than 900 mudbrick homes developed from at least the 12th century; and Hijaz Railway and Hegra Fort, key sites in the story and conquests of Lawrence of Arabia.
RCU was established by royal decree in July 2017 to protect and safeguard AlUla and it is embarking on a long-term plan to develop and deliver a sustainable transformation of the region.