Accordingly it sets up licensing control procedures and quality assurance criteria to ensure proper provision of tourism services. As for prices, the maximum limit of rates of residence in tourism accommodation facilities was determined based on the classification of those facilities and level of provided services in these facilities, which made price matching to the quality of service provided, which would prompt investors to develop and improve provided services in tourism accommodation sector. In SCTA's efforts to fix the price, the price would be in exchange of provided service. It conducts persistent inspection visits to ensure facilities' commitment to licensing and classification conditions, their adherence to specific prices according to the classification grades they had, besides enforcing fines against violating facilities.
SCTA has organized tourist guide profession in order to promote the role of tourist guides to provide distinct services while he accompanies tourists and provide them with correct information on tourism sites in a proper manner, as well as pushing up the levels of provided tourism services in the Kingdom. Tourist guide activity did not exist before the institution of SCTA. In coordination with the Ministry of Interior, SCTA has set up required controls and conditions for licensing tourist guides. SCTA also, in coordination with the National Center for Assessment has laid out vocational assessment for tourist guides under three categories — General tourist guide, Tourist guide for specific area, Tourist guide for specific site.
For this purpose it has set up codified examinations to assess tourist guide applicant's skills, education, culture and behavior. Also an electronic portal is created to allow anyone that seeks tourist guide license to apply for license via SCTA website. Several training courses were held to qualify tourist guides in a number of provinces across the Kingdom. SCTA was assigned to study Timeshare in tourism real estate.
Accordingly, SCTA has prepared a bill for which it sought help from a number of international and national consultants and specialists who conducted comparative studies for best international experiments in the field of Timeshare regulations. After the bill was widely discussed by the legislative bodies, in particular the "Majlis Al Shura" and the "Council of Ministries", it has been approved finally through a Royal Decree No. SCTA has met all requirements of Timeshare regulation to ensure its best execution, including building electronic systems, providing human and technical requirements that are necessary for its application.
Timeshare concept is buying the right of benefiting from an apartment in tourism accommodation facilities for a specific period of time around the year, not less than three years, due to an agreed contract in return of an agreed amount. Timeshare system allows large revival for capital in the tourism sector.
Actually the rate of performance is equal to the rate of demand. It is a commonly agreed marketing custom. However, SCTA's effort does not stop there. It persistently seeks in its plans and programs to tackle rates of lower turnouts in some tourist locations through increasing efforts of development and rehabilitation as well as implementing the recommendations of specialized workshops and researches, in addition to responding to the suggestions of investors and tourists.
SCTA considers its service users as partners and have effective role in setting and assessing its strategy. So, the Commission deals seriously with any complaint it receives from beneficiaries, and it works for finding a fast solution to the complaints. It looks to the user complaint as an element of assessment and quality control and it adds it as one of the means of general control and quality assurance of the tourist product. It even opens the ways of continuous connection with the users in this context in particular. The Commission deals with the investor and tourist within the framework of productive partnership, and therefore it provides for them various ways of reaching and assessing the services and their participation in making them.
No doubt, the depth, the diversity and richness in the cultural, environmental and geographical scope in the kingdom represent a great challenge and greater distinction.
So, SCTA does not deal with ay one tourist frame, but it puts its plans and programs which deal with this wide diversity, and it keeps asking the society, partners and the concerned parties to consolidate and cooperate to give success to the national tourism project as a national duty of all people. Tourist sites development What are the public tourist places? And how were they specified?
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These are the natural tourist sites of public ownership which are good for development and tourist investment, and which have been specified through a field survey in partnership with government authorities in the regions for all tourist sites, that number about 12,, after analyzing them through specific technical standards and in association with related parties in the regions.
The output was represented in sites, which are good for development and tourist investment natural and archeological in thirteen regions of the kingdom, and through these, public tourist sites place were specified. In association with the main partners in the region, SCTA develops the public tourism places which attract investment through a system developed on the basis of previous international experiences of a series of projects covering a number of public tourism places to be developed as tourist destinations of multiple uses, or tourist resorts used as sites for tourist investment projects such as resorts, parks and others.
Specific priorities are set for starting preparation of development plans of these places according to negotiable standards set up for this purpose. The public tourist place on the Red Sea coast refer to resort, and can be developed as destinations or resorts of multiple use, of which tourism will be an economic pillar. In these destinations and resorts there will be several activities, and tourism recreational services in addition to the residential, commercial, educational and sport facilities. These will be able to attract investors to implement their projects and tourists to spend their vacations.
These destinations or resorts are given high development priority, which requires supervision, management and direction by SCTA through the policies of supervision and investment. The Commission classifies the new destinations and sites into categories according to their geographical properties: Coastal, Mountains and Deserts.
Twenty-four Tourist places were developed in eight areas, and they are ready to be offered for tourist investment. This means preparing attractive public tourism places, which are ready for investment presently through implementing the minimum limit of facilities and services which enrich the visit for the tourist, such as roads, car parks, pedestrian paths, shaded sitting areas, in addition to guiding signboards and some necessary constructions, such as visitor center and water cycles, according to need of each site.
They are provided with all necessary tools that guarantee the implementation of sustainable tourist projects to enjoy high economic benefits as well as leading to environmental conservation and multiple interests for local community. This includes formulating of a joint work team with other relevant sectors to supervise the development of sector's projects. SCTA implements workshops to develop tourist development mechanisms, providing them with experience of the prominent international experts in the field of tourism development.
SCTA prepared a number of directories to enable the partners in the field of sustainable tourism development, and implemented instructive workshops supported by evidences for all partners.
Physical environment of cities and villages is the most important aesthetic elements which help to highlight tourism. Urban style has great impact in designing building facades consistent with the natural environment. Due to the importance of this element in the tourism, SCTA in cooperation with partners at the Ministry of Rural and Municipal Affairs MOMRA , the municipalities of governorates and cities are working for developing some architectural requirements and regulations in the municipalities with respect to building colors.
Agreements are underway with the municipalities in the mountain areas in Asir, Al Baha and Al Taif in the preparation of necessary technical studies in this matter to list a number of building colors matching the surrounding nature so as to reduce the optical distortion throughout the mountain cities and villages resulted from the use of building materials with non-homogeneous nature, or due to painting the buildings with colors not in harmony with the surrounding environment.
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The directory is a scientific methodology to help the secretariats and the municipalities of mountainous areas in the preparation of construction systems commensurate with the mountainous nature of these areas due to the limited areas of land suitable for urban development planning. SCTA implemented a number of projects which deal with the problem of visual distortion, such as the project of changing colors of building of Abha Palace Hotel in Asir region, where the Commission in cooperation with Abha Palace Hotel applied the study of construction and building systems on a number of buildings as an experiment through which a list of colors consistent with the surrounding nature of the hotel building are used to minimize visual distortion, and help in finding harmony between the buildings of the hotel and its natural environment.
A List of colors were offered by the study are applied for all hotel buildings so that this project becomes a model to be followed in other mountain areas. Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities also cooperated with the Taif Governorate to prepare a list of colors suitable with the natural environment of the province by selecting Wadi Zi Gazal of Taif as a model for the application of the study done through with the participation of the community, to be circulated to other areas of the province.
A List of colors suitable with the natural surrounding are determined, that contribute to minimizing the visual distortion occurring as a result of using building materials and colors inconsistent with the surrounding nature. The Commission is currently implementing a list of colors on a number of buildings in the valley and then apply the same methodology to the rest of the mountainous tourist areas.
Recently we witness a boom in a new type of tourism, which is the environmental and rural tourism which depends on natural attraction factors. Another sector of tourists appeared which is different from those who spend their holidays, traditionally.
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This group prefer to spend their vacation in a novel way that provides them with a opportunity to move away from the hustle and noise of modern life to enjoy the beauty and purity of nature, the richness of its landscape and its neighborhoods wilderness and associate with local people and their cultures both old and contemporary and learn from their range of activities related to surrounding environment, such as: exploring the mountains, forests, and valleys, watching birds, contemplation on nature, holding camps, watching coral reefs, fishing, crossing deserts in caravans of camels, living with rural environments, watching traditional farming and animal husbandry methods, etc.
All this constitute new modes of activities attracting the tourist to explore new areas in the world. The concept of environmental and rural tourism emerged as a practical selection for enjoying the natural and cultural heritage and conserving them, at the same time. This mode of tourism has been defined as environmentally compliant picnics, visits to virgin areas for the purpose of enjoying, studying, contemplating the natural, heritage and cultural environment.
This type of tourism can reflect in many forms, perhaps the most important and most prestigious are the Eco-Lodges, rural rest-houses and the Agri-lodges, which are considered as one of the products of the eco-tourism and rural or agricultural tourism. However, the eco-lodge and agri-lodges should fulfill the three basic conditions of environmental and rural tourism which are: conserving surrounding environment, physical benefit to local society, building interaction between the local environment, tourists and workers.
It is very difficult, theoretically and practically, to find clear difference between environmental inns and rural rest houses as all of these are tourist products and because of their important achievements for the principles and requirements of rural, ecotourism and agricultural tourism. Such projects aim at enrooting principles of preservation of natural treasure and sustainability among the tourists.
The environmental inns need better attention from tourists because they are built in more sensitive environmental areas compared to rest houses. They constitute a program that organizes the tourist sites and places them on a digital map to know the relative position of the tourist sites with other sites.
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They help decision makers to develop them by connecting them with the other cities, services and sites as each tourist site has fixed coordinates and one description and picture. Tourist Culture: How does the Commission look to level of tourism awareness in the Saudi society?
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Tourism awareness is correlated to several factors including the scientific and cultural levels. No doubt, the wise leadership of the kingdom and the higher directors of the country have ushered in the movement of civilization and culture, and created a national awareness covering the factors of growth including tourism. Tourism began to mobilize increasing public opinion recently crystallizing faith in the cultural diversity of the kingdom, and indicating that its international presence does not stem from its great position on the religious and economic level only, and that there are other gains for the nation, including diversity in the various aspects of life in the Kingdom.
Tourism has revealed the course made by this opinion as demand of tourism in its different environments in the kingdom, the media coverage of it, and the repeated praise of its diversity. All of this emphasize that tourism is one of the main sources of diversity and development. SCTA never underestimates the international efforts in the field of tourism, and it benefits from its experiences and programs.
But the Commission confirms that the Saudi tourism one of the largest areas of international marketing in tourism. Hence and the Commission sets up its several tourism attraction programs and plans so that the internal tourism becomes the main option of the Saudi tourist.
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Domestic tourism does not specialize to any specific seasons but it is open for different seasons. This does not conflict the fact that tourism becomes more active in some seasons particularly in the seasons of specific holidays. The Commission sets up intensive programs to invest the vacations and holidays in a way that benefits the activation of tourism. This administrative view has led to great successes and opened fields of partnership with public and private sector in a wide organized way. The Commission sets up a large number of programs of enhancing tourism awareness through the general meetings, media programs, books and pamphlets.
And also through presenting the tourism products in a professional manner whcih has reflected on citizen and his tourism awareness. It seems that the expression of having remarkable development in the tourism awareness does not reflect the reality because tourism movement in the kingdom is supported by the wise leadership. The Commission presented a huge national project, and it planned for a number of frames, programs and projects, and a number of the concerned parties participated in the Commission's activities. Therefore, there is a very large boom within this frame represented in the qualitative shit witnessed by tourism, and in the discussion, acceptance and interaction.
This encourages the Commission to support this trend to reach to other categories in the society. The Commission set up its orientation programs and implemented them through the several partnerships. The Commission adopts frame of the programs disseminated through various sectors such as the students sector.
A number of programs were implemented with the Ministry of Education by investing the large category supervised by the ministry.