Saudi Prince's Sky-High Vision: Soudah Peaks Mountain Tourism Project Soars

Saudi Prince's Sky-High Vision: Soudah Peaks Mountain Tourism Project Soars

By Author

Published on October 1, 2023

His Royal Highness Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Crown Prince, Prime Minister, and Chairman of Soudah Development, has unveiled a grand vision for Saudi Arabia's future in tourism. The masterplan, known as "Soudah Peaks," will transform the breathtaking landscapes of the Aseer region, situated in the southwestern part of the country, into a luxury mountain tourism destination perched 3,015 metres above sea level on Saudi Arabia's highest peak.

This audacious project is part of the Public Investment Fund's (PIF) ongoing efforts to diversify the Kingdom's economy, with a particular focus on expanding vital industries like tourism, hospitality, and entertainment, all while supporting the broader Aseer development strategy.

HRH Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who also chairs Soudah Development’s Board of Directors, envisions Soudah Peaks as a groundbreaking addition to Saudi Arabia's tourism sector. It represents a bold leap into the realm of luxury mountain tourism, promising visitors an unparalleled living experience while preserving the region's natural environment, cultural heritage, and rich traditions.

The ambitious project is not only strategically aligned with Vision 2030 goals but is also expected to significantly boost the Saudi economy. It's estimated to contribute more than SAR 29 billion to the Kingdom's cumulative GDP while creating thousands of direct and indirect job opportunities. In the words of HRH the Crown Prince, "Soudah Peaks will place the Kingdom on the global tourism map and celebrate its rich culture and heritage, all set against the backdrop of lush greenery and skies above the clouds."

Soudah Peaks will offer high-end, luxurious hospitality services to over two million visitors annually by 2033. The masterplan's design will showcase local traditional and architectural styles, promoting both the cultural and landscape heritage of the region. It will consist of six distinct development zones: Tahlal, Sahab, Sabrah, Jareen, Rijal, and Red Rock. Each zone will boast world-class facilities, including hotels, luxury mountain resorts, residential chalets, villas, premium mansion sites, entertainment and commercial attractions, as well as outdoor experiences dedicated to sports, adventure, wellness, and culture.

In the first phase, expected to be completed by 2027, Soudah Peaks will offer 940 hotel keys, 391 residential units, and 32,000 square metres of retail space. Throughout its development, Soudah Peaks remains deeply committed to environmental preservation, following sustainability standards and contributing to the Saudi Green Initiative. Less than 1 percent of the vast 627 square kilometres of the project area will be used for construction, underscoring its dedication to protecting and preserving the natural environment and cultural heritage of the region.

As Soudah Development Company, a closed joint-stock company owned by PIF, continues to invest in this visionary project, Saudi Arabia is poised to become a major player in the global tourism industry. Soudah Peaks will undoubtedly redefine luxury mountain tourism, attracting adventurers and seekers of opulence from around the world.


UP Tourism's New Initiatives to Promote Rural Tourism and Empower Local Communities

UP Tourism's New Initiatives to Promote Rural Tourism and Empower Local Communities

By Nithyakala Neelakandan

Published on June 18, 2024

The Uttar Pradesh Tourism Department has recently signed two significant Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) to boost rural tourism and promote sustainable livelihoods. 

The first MoU, a five-year agreement, was signed between the Directorate of Tourism, Uttar Pradesh, represented by Principal Secretary Mukesh Kumar Meshram, and the State Rural Livelihood Mission (UPSRLM), represented by Mission Director Deepa Ranjan. This collaboration is set to enhance tourism infrastructure while empowering rural communities through improved access to financial services and sustainable livelihood opportunities.

Key initiatives under this MoU include:

  • Identifying and addressing infrastructure gaps in selected villages.

  • Developing tourism infrastructure and mobilizing communities for tourism activities.

  • Organizing capacity-building programs and promoting homestays.

  • Conducting training programs for Self-Help Groups (SHGs), homestay owners, and tourist guides.

  • Enhancing social media management, content creation, and familiarization trips.

UPSRLM will play a crucial role in:

  • Identifying potential SHGs and mobilizing communities.

  • Building the capacity of SHG members through training programs.

  • Supporting village cleanliness and promoting tourism villages via social media.

  • Sharing relevant data with the Directorate of Tourism and maintaining tourism infrastructure as needed.

The second MoU was signed between UPSRLM and the Manyawar Kanshiram Institute of Tourism Management. This partnership aims to develop sustainable food service enterprises in the state, with technical support and capacity building provided by the Institute.

These initiatives are part of UP Tourism's broader strategy to transform the state’s tourism landscape. By promoting rural tourism, they aim to:

  • Significantly boost local economies.

  • Provide diverse livelihood opportunities.

  • Enhance infrastructure to host a variety of tourism experiences.

To date, 229 villages have been identified for tourism development. These efforts are designed to empower rural communities through skill development and the promotion of local art, craft, culture, and cuisine.

Jaiveer Singh, Minister of Tourism and Culture, Uttar Pradesh, highlighted the importance of these initiatives: “These MoUs are a testament to our commitment to elevating the entire tourism ecosystem of Uttar Pradesh. By encouraging rural tourism, we are not only boosting local economies but also providing rural populations with various means of livelihood and employment.”

Mukesh Kumar Meshram, Principal Secretary, Tourism and Culture, emphasized the collaborative effort: “Our collaboration with UPSRLM and the Manyawar Kanshiram Institute is a significant stride towards sustainable tourism and community empowerment. This initiative will enhance facilities and infrastructure, offering tourists an authentic experience of rustic village life.”

Deepa Ranjan, Mission Director, UPSRLM, added, “This partnership will empower rural communities by integrating them into the tourism value chain. It will create new opportunities for economic growth and sustainable development in the villages.”

Eesha Priya, Special Secretary, Tourism, concluded, “We are focused on developing a comprehensive tourism strategy that benefits all stakeholders. The synergy between tourism development and rural livelihood enhancement is crucial for the holistic growth of our state.”

Through these strategic partnerships and initiatives, UP Tourism aims to create a vibrant tourism ecosystem that offers authentic rural experiences while empowering local communities. The focus on rural tourism not only promises economic growth but also ensures the preservation and promotion of Uttar Pradesh's rich cultural heritage.


Booking.com Joins Forces with Stonewall National Monument Visitor Center, Amplifying LGBTQ+ Representation in Travel and History

Booking.com Joins Forces with Stonewall National Monument Visitor Center, Amplifying LGBTQ+ Representation in Travel and History

By Nishang Narayan

Published on June 17, 2024

Booking.com is enhancing its mission to make travel accessible for everyone by announcing a new partnership with the Stonewall National Monument Visitor Center. This collaboration aims to preserve and promote LGBTQ+ history and culture, reinforcing Booking.com's commitment to diversity and inclusion in the travel industry.

Arjan Dijk, CMO and Senior Vice President of Booking.com, expressed pride in being a Founding Partner of the Visitor Center, stating, "Booking.com is incredibly proud to be a Founding Partner of the Stonewall National Monument Visitor Center, making it easier for visitors to learn more about a significant piece of history for the LGBTQ+ civil rights movement, in one of the most popular travel destinations in the world."

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This partnership announcement coincides with Booking.com's release of new research emphasizing the importance of inclusivity in travel. Key insights include:

  • Over half (59%) of American LGBTQ+ travelers have faced discrimination while traveling.

  • 50% of American LGBTQ+ travelers feel more insecure and self-conscious due to their LGBTQ+ identity.

  • More than half (58%) of American LGBTQ+ travelers prefer destinations with established LGBTQ+ tourism, while 46% seek destinations where they can promote social awareness and acceptance.

  • 72% of American LGBTQ+ travelers acknowledge that increased inclusivity in the travel industry has made them feel more comfortable.

For more detailed insights, the research methodology, and global statistics, please visit the Booking.com global media room.

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About Booking.com

Part of Booking Holdings Inc. (NASDAQ: BKNG), Booking.com's mission is to make it easier for everyone to experience the world. By leveraging technology to reduce travel friction, Booking.com connects millions of travelers with memorable experiences daily. Follow @bookingcom on social media or visit globalnews.booking.com for more information.


Holiday Inn Club Vacations Launches All-New, My Vacation Portal

Holiday Inn Club Vacations Launches All-New, My Vacation Portal

By Nishang Narayan

Published on June 17, 2024

Holiday Inn Club Vacations Incorporated, an international vacation ownership company, has launched My Vacation Portal, an innovative online platform designed specifically for Club Members and owners. This new portal offers a centralized, self-service tool for booking reservations, managing upcoming stays, accessing key membership details, making payments, and more.

"At Holiday Inn Club Vacations, customer obsession is one of our core growth strategies. We are passionate about providing great service and empowering guests to interact with our brand on their own terms," said JP Hurtado, Chief Information Officer at Holiday Inn Club Vacations Incorporated. "In crafting My Vacation Portal, our focus was on our owners and Club Members. We engaged them throughout the development process, regularly gathering their feedback, testing features, and incorporating their recommendations. The outcome is a user-friendly tool tailored to their needs today while staying aligned with the evolving preferences of future consumers."

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Key Features of My Vacation Portal:

  • Optimized Design: Seamless access on web browsers and mobile devices.

  • Multi-Location Search: Room photo galleries and the ability to book reservations.

  • Centralized Platform: Manage both membership and HOA, including making HOA/maintenance fee payments.

  • Self-Service Capabilities: Transfer Club Points to IHG One Rewards Points and extend Club Points.

  • Access to Details: View upcoming stays, current and future payments, partnership details (e.g., IHG One Rewards member number), current Club Points, exclusive offers, and more.

My Vacation Portal is part of several digital transformation investments made by Holiday Inn Club Vacations to enhance the experience for owners and Club Members. The platform will be continuously updated and enhanced to elevate user experience.

Holiday Inn Club Vacations Members and owners can now access My Vacation Portal by visiting myvacationportal.com and logging in with their credentials.

To see how My Vacation Portal appears to Club Members and owners, view the video here.

About Holiday Inn Club Vacations Incorporated

Encompassing resorts across the United States and the Mexican Caribbean, Holiday Inn Club Vacations Incorporated is a resort, real estate, and travel company with a mission to be the most loved brand in family travel by delivering easy-to-plan, memorable vacation experiences that strengthen families.

Based in Orlando, Florida, the company has been a leader in the vacation ownership industry since 1982, when Holiday Inn® founder Kemmons Wilson debuted the company's flagship property, Holiday Inn Club Vacations® at Orange Lake Resort, next to Orlando's Walt Disney World® Resort.

Today, the Holiday Inn Club Vacations resort portfolio spans across the United States and into the Mexican Caribbean, following the company's international expansion in May 2023. Throughout its history, the company has maintained the core family values true to its founding Wilson family, while aggressively pursuing growth, transforming its member engagement model, and building an industry-leading team passionate about the guest experience.

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