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Saudi Arabia Launches Asfar Tourism Investment Company

Saudi Arabia has established a new investment company as it plans for a major tourism boom. The Public Investment Fund (PIF), the kingdom's sovereign wealth fund, announced the launch of the Saudi Tourism Investment Company (Asfar) on July 27, 2023. The company aims to support the growth of the country's tourism sector by investing in new projects and developing attractive destinations across the kingdom.

Asfar will focus on enhancing the hospitality, tourist attractions, retail, and food and beverage offerings in cities across Saudi Arabia, in addition to investing in the local tourism value chain. The company will also enable the private sector through co-investment opportunities and by creating an attractive environment for local suppliers, contractors, and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to develop tourism projects and destinations. Asfar will seek to create a competitive environment that will improve the variety and quality of the tourism offering in the country.

The company will leverage Saudi Arabia's unique strategic location between the three continents of Asia, Africa, and Europe as well as the competitive advantages of its cities. It will benefit from the natural beauty and diversity of the country's terrain and culture to further enhance tourism experiences in the country. The company's vision is to attract domestic and international tourists to a large number of untapped domestic and international tourists to a large number of untapped destinations across the country and contribute to the national target of attracting 100 million visitors per year by 2030.

Mishary Alibraheem, Head of Entertainment, Leisure and Sports sector in MENA Investment at PIF, said: "Asfar will activate the role that Saudi Arabia's cities play in supporting the national economy. It will enable each city to make the most of its unique tourism offering, further diversifying and enriching the tourism and entertainment experience in Saudi Arabia. PIF tourism projects and companies working side by side. The creation of the company is in line with PIF's strategy to create opportunities in the tourism sector and reinforce strategic partnership opportunities with the private sector, creating jobs and diversifying sources of income for the local economy in line with Saudi Vision 2030."

Asfar is one of several strategic companies that PIF owns or supports that aims to invest in and develop Saudi tourism destinations. These include Aseer Investment Company, which aims to transform Aseer into a year-round tourism destination, as well as Saudi Downtown Company, mandated to build and develop downtown areas within Saudi Arabia. The launch of Asfar is in line with Saudi Vision 2030.

The establishment of Asfar reflects Saudi Arabia's ambition to become a global tourism destination that offers diverse and unique experiences for visitors. The country has recently opened up its borders to foreign tourists with a new e-visa system that allows visitors from 49 countries to enter without prior visas. The country has also launched several mega-projects that aim to showcase its natural and cultural heritage, such as NEOM, Qiddiya, Amaala, Red Sea Project, AlUla, Diriyah Gate, and Riyadh Sport Boulevard. These projects are expected to create thousands of jobs and contribute significantly to the country's gross domestic product (GDP) by 2030.



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