The SCTA has adopted the approach of effective partnership with the public and private sectors and the public society since its establishment as a successful mechanism to attain the objectives of tourism development. Whereas the council has adopted this approach in its fifth session in (1423 AH) under the presidency of His Royal Highness the Crown Prince, Deputy Prime Minister (then the Chairman of the Board of Directors).
The SCTA has released many initiatives in this regard. The foremost important of such initiatives is the cooperation agreements done with the ministries, government agencies, heads of provinces, and the private sector where (58) cooperation agreements have been signed (to date). Additionally, the establishment of organizational entities to manage tourism development in the provinces and some regions.
After more than a decade has passed since the establishment of the SCTA and its concrete achievements in developing the organizational structures to manage tourism on both the national and provincial levels, the role of the SCTA shall cope with the positive transformations the sector has witnessed in the provinces. The most important transformation being the wide acceptance of national tourism as an economical sector that contributes to providing job and investment opportunities to citizens in all over Saudi Arabia.
The SCTA’s approach, asserted by the General Strategy for the Development of National Tourism and executive action plans, aims to reduce its role as a central government organization by time, in order for local administrations to gradually take charge of tourism development and the SCTA’s role would stay as an organizer and motivator of tourism development in general and as a main source of knowledge and specialized expertise.
"Tamkeen” occupies the priority in the SCTA’s action plan in the coming three years as a tool to activate the concept of decentralization in tourism management, to transform the many roles that the SCTA performs to PTOs, to stimulate the spirit of competition among them in order to benefit from the resources and assets distinguishable in every region and province, and what domestic tourism offers to the provinces such as added value, income, as well as job and investments opportunities.
About the Program:
- “Tamkeen” is a long-term strategic initiative launched lately by the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities to support the potentials of the partners in the provinces (public and private sectors, educational institutions, local communities...etc) for the purpose of enabling them to lead the process of tourism development and benefit from it. Also, to give them the opportunity to manage their own provinces and to perform a higher role in the future within the geographic and organizational framework of the region.
- The concept of “Tamkeen” is not new to the activities of SCTA. In fact, it is a part of its former and current plans. The SCTA has accomplished substantial improvement in this regard in many provinces; however, the program mainly aims to transform the interest in answering (why should we develop tourism in the regions?) to (How can we develop tourism under a local leadership in the regions?). This can be achieved by reinforcing the programs and existing projects and adding new programs and projects to the general framework and main scopes of “Tamkeen”.
- The following diagram illustrates the theoretical relationship between the existing situation and what the SCTA aims to achieve through “Tamkeen”.
Objectives of the Initiative:
1. To build knowledge and transfer expertise and experiences to the partners in the provinces.
2. To improve the information and data base at the provincial level.
3. To highlight the distinguishable elements in every province according to its climate and geographical nature, and cultural heritage diversity, in order to support domestic tourism.
4. To establish a competing atmosphere between the provinces based on the distinguishing attributes and elements.
5. To facilitate access to various funding resources.
6. To spread and reinforce the awareness concerning the economic importance of tourism as a sector that offers job and investment opportunities to citizens.
Main scopes of “Tamkeen”:
- The implementation of the program depends on four major scopes which are building knowledge, transfer of expertise, administrative and monetary empowerment, increasing the ability of distinction and competition, and lastly decentralization in managing tourism and national cultural heritage. These scopes work collectively to encourage and support the efforts of PTOs in tourism development, under the SCTA’s supervision and motivation and a continuous follow-up by tourism organizations in these provinces and a direct implementation from the partners.
- Based on the major scopes mentioned above, mechanisms of integration are built and expanded with the concerned partners of tourism development, protection and development of national cultural heritage in the regions regardless of their different administrative statuses and the main fields of co-working; such as, planning, developing tourism products, educating and training, protecting, rehabilitating and developing heritage resources, marketing and investing, and operating and administrating tourism sites and destinations.
Ø Knowledge Building (expertise and experience transference):
- Over the past decade, artistic knowledge, specialized and rich experiences have been formed in all fields of tourism development, and protection and development of national heritage. Therefore, “Tamkeen” includes promoting this knowledge, experiences, and expertise and their complete transfer to the provinces via many means which include available communication tools for the recipients.
- This scope includes providing all information, data, studies, and tourism and cultural studies available in SCTA through (MAS) The Tourism Information and Research Center and the SCTA’s sectors and the organizational information that has been gathered from surveying globally successful experiences, studies, and various research conducted by the SCTA.
- Through enabling knowledge it is possible to build specialized knowledge abilities for partners in the regions; such as, the Municipality, Chamber of Commerce and Industry, training and educational institutions, engineering offices and the local community.
- The "Develop and Support Tourism Events" program supervised by the SCTA, facilitates the private sector and the regions to support organizing and developing tourism events and festivals with positive paybacks on the tourism industry in the kingdom, reducing seasonal tourism, and increasing attractive events during the low season.
Ø Resources (Increasing administrative and monetary capacities):
- All available means of knowledge include tools and instructions, studies of successful experiences, toolkits and other knowledge means the SCTA can make available for partners in tourism development and managing and developing heritage resources. In addition to that, facilitating the access to the public and private funding sources and also to the organizational institutions that have been established by the SCTA in cooperation with its partners in the regions (tourism development councils, PTO’s and specialized committees).
- Financial support is provided for projects in local communities in regions and to their investors. through public and private financing funds provided by agencies enabled to accomplish tourism development projects and programs and also to develop cultural heritage stated in the provincial executive plans.
- The Council of Ministers resolution numbered (209) issued 22/6/1430 AH includes a number of recommendations concerning the needed financial resources aimed to develop tourism in the Kingdom. It includes the establishment of domestic tourism development companies and the participation of the public loan funds in funding domestic tourism projects.
- “Promoting small and medium projects” program offers the convenient solutions to the obstacles that small and medium projects come upon in tourism sectors whether such obstacles are monetary, technical, or marketing.
- The National Project for Tourism Human Resources Development, “Takamul” contributes to raising the rates of localizing jobs in the tourism sector, antiquities, museums and urban heritage through motivating training and knowledge. Also to obtain vocational standards which help raise performance of the tourism industry, protection and the development of heritage, providing incentives that promote national human resources development in addition to increasing vocational awareness.
This section includes providing a competitive environment among regions and provinces which will promote development based the the tourism and heritage components and resources of each region or province. This is based on what the strategies in every province include in addition to the tourism identities of each province.
Ø Supervision (decentralization of national tourism administration)
- This section is an umbrella to the three former sections i.e. the program’s outcomes must be done according to the existing governmental regulation and in accordance with the systems and regulations. SCTA is willing to implement a higher portion of this scope; however, a very huge part can be gradually transferred to the regions in order to achieve decentralization of tourism administration together with the continuance of a section specialized placing SCTA policies and regulation .
- The tourism system raised to the Council of Ministers -after its approval by Allah’s will- would lead to a greater empowerment of the partners, avoiding centralization, raising the level of performance of tourism facilities, and assuring the equality among the facilities owners’ interests and the consumers’ interests.
Tools and implementation mechanisms:
The program includes a number of mechanisms and tools to accomplish its goals, they include;
- Providing related data and information
- Training programs and building skills and abilities
- Exploratory visits to distinguished experiences.
- Studies, research and statistics of each region
- Curricula and training packages
- Toolkits ready for applying major activities like tourism planning, organizing events, measuring economic impact , tourism promotion and others
- Facilitating obtaining funding from public and private loan institutions
- Supporting the collection of donations for some activities and promoting the participation of the sponsors in main events.
- Contributing to the efforts of tourism development companies in the regions and heritage hotels company
- Granting annual awards to the most distinguished destinations among all regions in accordance with specifically agreed upon standards
- Establishing an indicator to tourism competition at the provincial level
- Set general policies and licensure and classification standards for tourism activities taking into consideration the differences among regions.
- Contribution through SCTA representatives in the developmental tourism councils in the regions, by setting plans and policies at the provincial level and insuring that it meets national plans and policies.
Partners in the program:
The success of the program relies on a number of partners in the regions, and they are;
Ø Tourism development councils:
The major role of the council which contains two representatives one for the local administrations and one for the private sector, can be summarized by specifying the needs of the region in light of what has been accomplished in the last period during the increasing level of awareness and building local potentials for the purpose of providing them via the various above mentioned means.
Ø Provincial Municipalities:
Making regulations that are capable of conserving urban heritage, increasing the level of interest and investing it to develop tourism in the region and promoting investment in tourism activities through the lands, sites and investment paths that lie at its disposal.
Ø Universities and training institutions:
It performs training and education programs in addition to building capabilities in accordance with SCTA to provide curricula and training packages. Also, it is expected that universities will conduct such studies in addition to tourism and cultural research specific to every region.
Ø Industrial Chambers of Commerce:
To support marketing efforts for the region or the province, to motivate event sponsorship in the province and to encourage distinguished practices through granting awards for excellence based on specific standards that are agreed upon in coordination with the SCTA.
Ø The private sector:
Investment in tourism companies and projects, development of tourism products, sponsoring events and providing job opportunities.
Ø Local communicates:
· To spread the awareness about the economic and cultural importance of tourism and stating its role in providing job and investment opportunities.
· To work together with local intuitions to develop the distinguishable crafts and traditional industries in each region, to provide an attracting environment for tourists, in addition to hospitality and welcome values for them.
· SCTA has launched a number of programs to achieve its goals related to local communities, and they include:
- Tourism Education schooling program, “Smile”: SCTA has released this program in cooperation with the Ministry of Education, as a long-term program to gradually deepen the culture of tourism in the community by focusing on the educational community, as well as the family environment. An operational plan of two phases has been developed. The first phase included training of trainers and teachers, and the second phase is the stage of training students in intermediate and secondary schools.
- Tourism Enriches Program: aims to spread the awareness about the tourism culture concept to encourage its positive impact on local communities through preparing them for investing available tourism components. Also, to assist individuals and groups to focus their efforts towards developing themselves for establishing permanent tourism destinations. The foremost important targeted groups are community leaders, heads of administrative positions, women’s philanthropic societies (craftswomen- productive families), municipal council members, artisans and those concerned with antiquities .
- Leave No Trace Program: The SCTA initiates this program in cooperation with a number of public and private sector agencies. Its objective is to increase the awareness concerning eco-tourism whilst preserving natural environment across the Kingdom, in addition to protecting natural tourism components from negative impacts and developing them and encouraging positive behaviors that ensure the safety of the environment.
- Heritage Enriches program: The SCTA is currently working on preparing this program through a number of briefing and awareness programs directed to educational institutions, the community and some antiquities, museums, and urban heritage projects and handicrafts, with the objective of contributing to save Saudi Arabia’s national heritage sites and preserving what is left as well as transforming them into cultural landmarks and economic projects.
- Thameen Initiative: includes implementing a number of pilot projects that reflects interest in urban heritage development, and reusing it in tourism activities and others. SCTA aims through the establishment of this initiative to invest effective co-operation and partnership between the public and private sectors in the field of tourism development for the implementation of a number of projects to rehabilitate attractive urban heritage sites.
Requirements of Success:
With the consideration of the theoretical aspects of the program, its success in reality requires attention and concentration on some important aspects, and they include;
Ø Decentralization of a central organizational environment:
The current organizational environment of public agencies in KSA is generally based on centralism; thus, limiting the ability of the current administration to take decisions, which makes the decentralization of tourism management at the local level a harder task. As result, it requires SCTA’s support.
Ø Enabling partners according to what they want:
In the program’s first stages, it is required to carefully identify the regions’ requirements of the various enabling tools and to respond to such requirements accurately. This requires designing specific enabling programs for every province based on its requirements and avoid general solutions.
Ø Transferring the accumulated knowledge to operational means and tools:
Over that past few years, SCTA was able to build its ability in specialized knowledge and is still able to today. However, most of this knowledge and abilities are spread among many individuals and administrations, and have still not taken a specified form to include manuals, toolkits or guidebooks. Also, the successful transformation of such knowledge and abilities depends greatly on SCTA’s ability to transform such experiences to means everyone can benefit from.
Program’s organizational structure:
The program’s success relies on a clear internal organizational structure and administrative coherence. Being a temporary program, it suggested that it should be linked to the provincial sector of the SCTA (temporarily). Since, most tasks planned are to be achieved in the provinces and the link between the SCTA and the partners in the provinces is the PTO supervised by the PTO sector. In addition to that, the sector was provided during the last period with a complete network of direct contacts with local administrations which is one of the foremost important success factors of this program.