Therapeutic tourism draws Saudi tourists to Eastern Europe

Published August 23rd, 2016 - 06:30 GMT
Stari Most, a 16th-century Ottoman bridge in the city of Mostar in Bosnia and Herzegovina. (Shutterstock)
Stari Most, a 16th-century Ottoman bridge in the city of Mostar in Bosnia and Herzegovina. (Shutterstock)

Eastern Europe, known for its natural beauty and hospitality, is turning out to be an attractive destination for Saudi tourists. Another reason why this part of the world is attractive is the recent political upheavals being witnessed in many countries.

Bosnia and Georgia are among the favorite places for Saudis, even as Saudi Arabia is trying to support domestic tourism to increase its share in the gross domestic product to 18 percent by the year 2030, instead of the current four percent.

“No one can deny current efforts to revive domestic tourism through festivals, but its attraction declined during recent years, with people preferring to embark on external tourism. This led to the surfacing of tourist destinations that weren’t known to us before, such as Georgia, Bosnia, the United States and some East European capitals that offer natural and therapeutic tourism,” said Isam Abu Al-Ola, director of tourism programs.

He said that these capitals entered the competition for their natural beauty and low prices, in comparison with the cost of domestic tourism. The cost of travel to these countries for a period of seven to 10 days doesn’t equal the cost of two to three days in Taif or Jeddah in the Kingdom.

Al-Ola stressed the importance of finding radical solutions for prices paid by many people who are looking for new tourist facilities outside the Kingdom.

He revealed that Eastern European capitals offer therapeutic tourism, which many Gulf citizens yearn for.

Rayed Jamal, director of tourist programs in a travel agency, said the new tourist destinations that surfaced during the past two years include Bosnia, the Ukraine and Croatia.

“Georgia has therapeutic springs in addition to mountains and natural beauty, such as the mountainous Toshini province. Georgia is part of the Caucasus Mountains and Elbrus Mountain, which is the highest peak in Europe and located on the Black Sea Coast,” he said.

Jamal said Egypt is entering the competition after the reinstatement of its security situation, but not on the previous scale. Many Saudis also prefer some traditional capitals such as London, Dubai and Turkey, he added.


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