Luxury tour operator Abercrombie & Kent will open a destination management company in Saudi Arabia this month.
The company also intends to build several luxury lodges across the kingdom and aims to open its first in 2022.
A&K founder and co-chairman Geoffrey Kent confirmed the brand’s intention to enter Saudi Arabia earlier this year.
Speaking at a ‘Journeys in Arabia’ webinar to launch to UK and Irish travel companies in February, Kent said the kingdom is an exciting new destination for his firm’s market of affluent travellers looking for somewhere different to visit.
“From our perspective I’m wildly enthusiastic, always have been about Saudi,” he said.
Kent, who lived in the Gulf state for a period in the 1970s, recently returned after the country launched a new e-visa programme as part of an opening up of the country to foreign visitors under its Vision 2030 programme.
After the e-visa was launched in September 2019, and before Covid, 400,000 were approved despite early issues which saw many applications rejected.
“Since the seventies, nothing has changed,” Kent said. “It’s stayed the same over time. I have travelled everywhere, to 158 countries, and for me and my guests this is something new.
“I will actually lead one or two trips this year…with my people to really show them what Saudi has to offer. Then word of mouth will do the rest.”
A&K now has more than 55 DMCs in more than 30 countries, making it the world’s largest network of luxury DMCs.
Confirmation of an A&K DMC in Saudi Arabia comes four months after the Saudi Tourism Authority (STA) opened a commercial office for “key source markets” in the UK and Ireland as part of its strategy to engage with the tourism trade.
Pictured: Riyadh, Saudi Arabia