Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 12 December 2019

Oyo keen to create jobs through Dh3.9bn Saudi tourism investment

Company proposing to buy 10 luxury and upper-budget hotels in the kingdom

Site of the Red Sea project, where Saudi Arabia is planning a huge tourism venture encompassing 90 islands. Courtesy of Consulum.
Site of the Red Sea project, where Saudi Arabia is planning a huge tourism venture encompassing 90 islands. Courtesy of Consulum.

Indian hospitality firm Oyo Rooms expressed its keenness to create new job opportunities for young Saudis after making a 4 billion riyal (Dh3.9bn) commitment to the kingdom's tourism sector on Friday.

Oyo, which is backed by Softbank's Vision Fund, is planning to buy 10 new 'upper-budget' and luxury hotels in the kingdom. Following an agreement in February this year it has already integrated more than 130 hotels in 14 Saudi cities into its network.

"The MoU and investment of 4 billion riyals reiterates our commitment of delivering a standardised quality experience to travellers coming to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and driving higher yields for small and independent asset owners. Our operations in the region are supported by over 350 Saudi nationals and we are keen to generate employment opportunities for young hospitality enthusiasts in the region," said Oyo's founder and chief executive Ritesh Agarwal.

"The luxury segment in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia holds a lot of promise for us given the rapid growth of the hospitality industry over the last four years."

Oyo was one of several private sector signatories committing to a total of 100bn riyals worth of investments with Saudi Arabia's General Investment Authority (Sagia) and the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH) on Friday.

A range of local and international firms made some big-ticket pledges to invest in the kingdom, with Canada's Triple 5 signing a 37.5bn riyal agreement with Sagia to develop a series of mixed-use tourism, hospitality and entertainment destinations and the UAE's Majid Al Futtaim Group signing a 20bn riyal deal for a shopping and entertainment project that will create 12,000 jobs and feature the region’s largest indoor ski slope and snow park.

Saudi Arabia's Seera Group, formerly known as Al Tayyar Travel Group, will also invest 1bn riyals in new tourism projects in the kingdom.

The company is investing 500 million riyals in seven new hotels in the kingdom, building 6,000 new rooms in Riyadh, Jeddah and Al Taif over the next three years through an agreement with mid-market operator Choice Hotels, and spending another 500m riyals on destination management services that will include desert camps, city bus tours, guided tours and other experiences.

"The private sector will play a key role in enabling global visitors to experience the rich and diverse cultural heritage and modern attractions of the kingdom,” said Abdullah Al Dawood, chief executive and board member of Seera Group.

Saudi Arabia expects to increase international and domestic visits to 100 million a year by 2030, increasing the tourism sector‘s contribution towards gross domestic product to 10 per cent by 2030, up from just 3 per cent today.

The kingdom announced details of a new visa regime at a gala event at the Unesco-listed Ad-Diriyah in Riyadh on Friday night. A new e-visa, or visa on arrival, has been offered to tourists from 49 countries, including the US, UK and Australia. Visas allow for stays of up to three months.

Other companies to sign agreements include real estate developer Al Khozama, Saudi Arabian Airlines, Alshaya Group, Shomoul, Radisson and Alrajhi Investment.

“Our role is to empower and enable domestic and international investors by identifying and developing new opportunities, fostering partnerships and shaping regulatory reforms,” Sagia's governor, Ibrahim Al-Omar, said at Friday's signing ceremony with investors.

Updated: September 28, 2019 08:44 PM

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