‘Now is the best time’ to go on holiday to Saudi Arabia, says top travel influencer

Many of the kingdom’s sites are still untouched, says Yousef Al Sudais

(FILES) This file photo taken on March 31, 2018 shows a man standing outside of the Qasr al-Farid tomb (The Lonely Castle) carved into rose-coloured sandstone in Madain Saleh, a UNESCO World Heritage site, near Saudi Arabia's northwestern town of al-Ula. Citizens from 49 countries are now eligible for tourist visas online or on arrival to Saudi Arabia, thanks to a landmark decision enacted last month, relaxing rules that had largely restricted visits to business travellers and Muslim pilgrims, with the authorities banking on large cities like the capital Riyadh and the western Red Sea port of Jeddah through large-scale investments, including in entertainment.
 / AFP / FAYEZ NURELDINE
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Now is the best time to visit Saudi Arabia, because its heritage sites are relatively untouched and it is more affordable than many alternative destinations, a leading Saudi travel influencer said.

“When you ask people in the world why they travel, there are many reasons," Yousef Al Sudais told the World Travel Market conference in London on Wednesday.

"Some for culture, some for food, some for history, some for the landscapes, some for religion, and Saudi has it all, all of these major reasons for travelling.”

Al Sudais has more than 126,000 followers on Instagram and has made a business out of travelling for the past seven years.

He regularly works with tourism companies, luxury hotel chains and airlines, including Etihad, Lufthansa and Turkish Airlines.

He was voted best travel influencer in the Middle East by Cosmopolitan magazine in 2018.

(FILES) This file photo taken on February 11, 2019 shows an aerial view of the coloured rocks in the Ula desert near the northwestern Saudi town of al-Ula. Citizens from 49 countries are now eligible for tourist visas online or on arrival to Saudi Arabia, thanks to a landmark decision enacted last month, relaxing rules that had largely restricted visits to business travellers and Muslim pilgrims, with the authorities banking on large cities like the capital Riyadh and the western Red Sea port of Jeddah through large-scale investments, including in entertainment.
 / AFP / FAYEZ NURELDINE

The vlogger said popular tourist destinations were often spoilt by too many holidaymakers taking photos but because Saudi Arabia has just opened to visitors, having launched visas last month, it is a good time to visit.

“It’s still really untouched and so beautiful," Al Sudais said. "Also, there are many cities and countries around the world that are suffering from over-tourism, while Saudi has just opened its doors to the world.

“This is a huge opportunity for everyone to actually change their regular popular destination to travel and go to a place where it's unique to be there.

"It's a completely rich country, and rich I mean by not only money but also by culture, food and history, all kinds of aspects of travel.”

He said that although the kingdom was relatively less expensive, there were plenty of options there for luxury travellers.

Al Sudais hailed Saudi Arabia’s beautiful landmarks, including white beaches by the Red Sea to the west and the Green Mountain to the south.

An estimated 77,000 people have acquired an eVisa and entered the kingdom since it relaxed its rules at the end of September.

The Saudi government aims to have 100 million annual visits by 2030.

Passport holders of 51 countries and territories can obtain the three-month visas online for a fee before or on arrival at Saudi.

Al Sudais said that since the visa restrictions were lifted, he has been steadily increasing his number of followers from outside the kingdom."

“I’ve got a lot of messages asking me how to get there and what to do there,” he said.

Al Sudais now operates a tour company around Saudi Arabia and  wants to make more videos on his social media accounts for people considering a holiday in the kingdom.

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