Italian tourism in the Kingdom has been seeing steady growth. In just the first 6 months of 2022, around 1,500 Italians traveled to the country.
AlUla, with its archaeological wonders, remains the favorite destination for Italian tourists, followed by Riyadh and Jeddah, the historical centers of which carry obvious appeal to Italians.
“When they go back home, all Italian tourists say they were enthusiastic and incredibly surprised by Saudi Arabia,” Eleonora Bertuzzi, director of Bertel, one of the first Italian tour operators to organize trips to Saudi Arabia, beginning in 2002, told Arab News.
Bertuzzi lives in Milan and collaborates with Kel12, a tour operator in the city. However, she says she prefers to cooperate with Saudi suppliers who maintain authentic local traditions.
“Before getting there, Italian tourists expect to find an extremely closed country where nothing can be done. Instead, they see a modern and interesting country, where young people have a great desire to enjoy life and do interesting things.”
She says Italians always tell her they are “impressed” by the Saudi people, especially those “engaged in promoting heritage, trying to offer tourists new experiences, like those who have opened their homes to organize lunches and show how a middle-class Saudi family lives every day.”
Italian tourists are equally fascinated by the archaeological heritage of the Kingdom.
“AlUla is an open-air museum, and Riyadh with its antiquities is also much loved by our tourists who seek to understand the country by studying its origins,” Bertuzzi said.
“Fifty percent of Italian tourists say they want to return to Saudi Arabia. We are now studying alternative itineraries and destinations. Among these, NEOM will be very interesting,” she added.
According to Bertuzzi, there are “excellent prospects” for the growth of Italian tourism in Saudi Arabia. “At the moment, prices are still high for Italians. But we’re working on that.”