The Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA) has collaborated with farm owners in the Riyadh province to develop agro-tourism in the Kingdom.
Agro-tourism, which involves any agriculture-based operation that brings visitors to a farm or ranch, is a form of niche tourism that is considered a growing industry in many parts of the world including Australia, Canada and the United States.
In a concerted effort to develop agro-tourism in the Kingdom, SCTA recently granted agro-tourism membership licenses to a number of farm owners in the Al-Kharj municipality in the Riyadh province.
Shebaili Al-Gerani, mayor of Al-Kharj, has handed over licenses to the farmers, an official at the Al-Kharj municipality said "Accordingly, they are deemed to be principal members in agro-tourism in Al-Kharj."
Commenting on the development, an SCTA official said that the commission is keen to develop agro-tourism in the Kingdom in view of several factors that emphasize the importance of the sector. "SCTA is committed to developing this through transforming agricultural locations into tourism sites, taking into account and preserving their agricultural and natural features," the official underlined.
He said the project will promote the diversity of tourism for national destinations that can be visited by domestic tourists, offering them an enjoyable experience.
He added that this would also create new job opportunities for local communities in the field of agriculture and revive local economies.
The SCTA urged farm owners across the Kingdom who are eligible for agro-tourism licensing to log on the SCTA official website to review licensing conditions. Farm owners can also visit the SCTA headquarters or one of its branches to learn more about finance management and loan offers for farmers who wish to engage in agro-tourism through the Agricultural Development Fund (ADF), he said.
Agro-tourism involves a wide variety of activities, including buying produce directly from a farm stand, navigating a corn maze, picking fruit, feeding animals or staying at a farm.
As the tourism sector in the Kingdom is witnessing unprecedented growth that is greatly contributing to the national GDP and the job market with new opportunities for Saudi youth, this new dimension of tourism is expected to take the sector to new highs by transforming agronomy in the Kingdom from sustainable farming to a source of revenue and employment generation.