Saudi Arabia is adding a second terminal to AlUla International Airport, expanding its capacity to accommodate 6 million passengers a year, up from the current annual capacity of 400,000 travellers.
The total area of the airport will also be expanded to about 2.4 million square metres. It will be capable of accommodating 15 aircraft, the state-run Saudi Press Agency reported on Sunday.
AlUla International Airport's new Terminal 2 “will be among the prominent projects that reflect the uniqueness and harmony of AlUla's heritage, aligning with the identity of the province to highlight its cultural and environmental aspects”, the Royal Commission for AlUla said.
The design for the new terminal also includes hospitality services such as a hotel and spa.
“The Royal Commission for AlUla is working to anticipate the expected growth of air traffic in AlUla as a global destination,” SPA said.
AlUla International Airport handles flights from international and domestic airlines including Qatar Airways, flydubai, Saudi Arabia's budget airline Flynas and Saudia.
They operate direct flights in and out of AlUla International Airport from Doha, Dubai, Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam.
The historic AlUla region dates back more than 2,000 years and is the former capital of the ancient Arabian kingdom of Lihyan.
More than 110 well-preserved tombs, ancient inscriptions and carvings give visitors an insight into a bygone era.
AlUla has been establishing itself not only as a historical destination in recent years but also as a cultural one, with a host of international artists such as Andrea Bocelli performing at outdoor concerts and the Maraya Concert Hall.
Saudi Arabia expects to attract about 100 million domestic and international visitors to the country this year, with the tourism sector contributing almost 6 per cent to the kingdom's gross domestic product in 2023, Saudi Arabia's Tourism Minister Ahmed Al Khateeb told the Future Investment Initiative in Riyadh last week.
The country will close the year with about 30 million international tourists, which is about half of its goal of 70 million overseas visitors by 2030.
Saudi Arabia has also revised its 2030 target for total annual tourist trips – a figure that entails both domestic and international travellers – to 150 million from 100 million, the minister said.
Of the 150 million, it is aiming for an even split of about 75 million domestic tourists and 75 million international travellers, he said.