AlUla Expects India To Be In Its Top Three Source Markets

Hosts 263,000 visitors last year, targeting 291,000 in 2024 and 381,000 next year.

AlUla hosts 263,000 visitors last year, and targeting 291,000 this year from India, letting an anticipation rise for India being in AlUla’s top three source markets in future. Melanie DeSouza- Executive Director of Marketing – The Royal Commission for AlUla shares insights on infrastructure developments, marketing strategy, sustainability, and more.

India’s importance as market

India is going to be in our top three markets. India is now all about multi-generational travel. We are seeing very strong anecdotal feedback about how this destination is scoring in relative terms. So last year we had 263,000 visitors, this year we have 291,000 that we are targeting and next year, 381,000, and then we go up to 2 million by 2035, so never mass tourism. The cities we are targeting are Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Hyderabad, and Chennai. But when we think about India, we know there are not many of our source markets have convenient air access.

Developmental initiatives

At the moment with the 840 rooms, we have properties like The Banyan Tree; Habitas; Dar Tantora; along with Chedi – a Singapore brand, happening later this year in Hegda. We have huge votes of confidence from hotel chains like Aman Resorts and Azulik – adjacent to Wadi AlFann.

We expect to see brands like Hyatt and Marriot, with around 200 rooms each. Also, our new plans to take our airport capacity to 6 million people in the next few years in terms of annual throughput. We have about 16 cultural assets in the pipeline and announced two major cultural institutions that is to be designed by Lina Ghotmeh and Asif Khan. We have Maraya, called as the largest mirrored building in the world.

Promotional & marketing initiatives

The latest campaign ‘Forever Revitalizing’ is our first communication where we are talking to customers in our own voice. It is about clear positioning and brand platform that’s premised on our brand purpose. Our core values imply community being at the heart of everything we do, upskilling our locals and how do we create pathways for their economic prosperity.

The campaign is a ‘rally cry’ for our staff, and for our investors to invest more alongside partners to be part of our mission. The campaign is essentially an awareness-building campaign recognizing this is a young destination and we want to position it right. The early signs in terms of results from ‘Forever Revatilizing’ are so strong out of India, we were able to send some leads to some of our partners in the digital space.

We have just launched a mobile app that is very friendly to people, and we want to be very much in the data driven game with our marketing, trying to deliver personalized communication to our customers. So as people get closer to wanting to actually make a booking, our job is to work with the travel trade, where we craft together the itineraries and product price so that people can actually convert.


We have over 50% of AlUla that is now classified nature reserves, our effort is to regenerate land that has suffered from desertification and overgrazing over the years. We are trying to get that ecological balance right, that might take eight months or years or longer.

By 2035, we are hoping to be net carbon neutral in terms of everything except food imports and air. The fact that we have capped tourists at 2 million tourists by 2035 means that we are not about over tourism. We are very much about how we deliver meaningful quality experiences.