TTN

Become an AlUla Specialist

The Royal Commission for AlUla (RCU) has debuted its first travel agent training programme and trade information hub – AlUla Specialist. Participants who pass the final exam of the training programme will be profiled as premium AlUla operators providing world-class service and up to the minute information on the destination.


The bespoke online hub drives awareness of AlUla as a new and unexplored heritage and culture destination of global significance. The training platform facilitates global travel agents to learn, market and sell trips to the vast desert region in Northwest Saudi Arabia.

“At the end of the day, we are a boutique destination. It’s about quality of experience. It’s about high yield and long length of stay”
– Melanie De Souza

Melanie De Souza, Executive Director, Destination Marketing at the Royal Commission for AlUla, tells TTN: “Our partnerships with the travel trade, especially the front liners, is critical. Ensuring that they are aware of, infused with and inspired by our destination, and have the confidence to build itinerary blocks, is critical.”


The course will include five training modules in English and Arabic languages: introduction to the destination of AlUla; the Unesco World Heritage Site of Hegra; Dadan and Jabal Ikmah; AlUla Old Town and Oasis; and Nature and Adventure attractions.


Features also include a trade toolkit including downloadable factsheets, brochures and visitor guide, video and training webinars, trade rewards and incentives, regular news and product updates as well as the opportunity to attend upcoming events.

 

AL ULA SUMMER
AlUla has unveiled a complete suite of experiences for the summer with special flight and accommodation offers and inclusive packages for the Eid break and summer months.


AlUla’s zipline on Harrat mountain comes on the top of the summer activities’ list, with a new extension that has just been added this year to make this zipline the longest and fastest of its kind in Saudi Arabia.


Other summer options include Via Ferrata; a 30-minute helicopter flight for a bird’s eye view of AlUla’s seven most famous landmarks, including Elephant Rock and UNESCO World Heritage Site, Hegra; stargazing; abseiling; vintage Land Rover day tour; UTV buggy tours; The Ridge Walk; heritage oasis trails in the lush haven of 2.3 million date palms and more.


AlUla’s heritage sites from the Unesco World Heritage Site of Hegra, to Dadan and Jabal Ikmah or AlUla Old Town provides a unique experience each and every time you visit with different rawis’ offering different perspectives on the deep and rich stories from each era. More availability and less crowds during summer mean you will get these sites to yourself.


AlUla’s new calendar of events 2022/2023 includes AlUla Arts, AlUla Skies, Winter at Tantora, and the AlUla Wellness Festival. Labelled Al Ula Moments, these four festivals spread over the calendar have been a success, says De Souza. Some 25 per cent of the total visitation to Al Ula these days is international.


Last month, Flydubai announced that it is offering two weekly flights direct from Dubai into AlUla. The stay product in Al Ula is also slowly and surely rising up to the challenge.

 

HOTEL STAYS
According to some reports, there will be 2,000 additional rooms in AlUla by 2025. For now, the 96-key Habitas AlUla Resort and Caravan by Habitas are online and offer a unique ethos and experience with the brand’s debut in the Middle East.


Banyan Tree Al Ula (reflagging of Ashar Tented Resort) will launch this October with upgraded units and villas and a beautiful spa. It is set magnificently against the backdrop of rocky landscapes, says De Souza.


Shaden Resort, pitched at a more moderate price level than Habitas, offers a collection of 121 Deluxe Rooms and Villas, all of which have a private terrace or balcony.


Later this year, RCU will also open an eco-premised property in the heart of Al Ula Old Town. Surrounded by mud brick villages that were continuously occupied for 900 years - till as recently as 40 years ago – the project will feature a 30-room hotel and some private residences. At the core it will be about celebrating Al Ula’s unique heritage and history, De Souza tells us.


BOUTIQUE DESTINATIO
Although AlUla is literally a drive away from Saudi Arabia’s core religious sites, De Souza says: “We’re not after the mass religious tourism market, we are certainly after what I call ‘Umrah plus’, a lot more affluent people who have the time and disposition to just take a break and immerse themselves in a destination. And what better place to do that than AlUla?”


After having set a goal for 95,000 visitors in 2021, RCU ended up with 146,000 visitors. “We were way above our target. The numbers are promising but I want to stress we are not about mass tourism. At the end of the day, we are a boutique destination. It’s about quality of experience. It’s about high yield and long length of stay.”

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