The Saudi Commission for Tourism & Antiquities (SCTA) is extending the hotel classification system in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to cover all types of accommodation.

Speaking to on the sidelines of the Arabian Hotel Investment Conference earlier this week, SCTA general director for licensing & quality Eng. Ahmed M. Al-Eesa explained that until now, the classification system only included hotels and furnished apartments.

The new system would include six or seven further types of accommodation, said Al-Eesa.

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“In the last two to three years we were working on the first phase of the restructuring of the industry, which is the classification, and that took from us a lot effort to convince the industry to accept the new concept and the new design criteria,” Al-Eesa explained. “I would say within the last two years we reached a point where everybody at least accepts the concept.”

He said the system now needed to be extended to cater to customer demand.

“Today the needs of the customer forced us to go to other types of accommodation, like resorts, hotel apartments, motels, budget hotels - all of that kind of accommodation,” said Al-Eesa.

“It’s not there in Saudi Arabia, or at least it’s not defined as a sector, so this is one of the main projects that we’ll announce within the next two months,” he revealed.

Al-Eesa added that SCTA was also working on a project to add specialised accommodation concepts to Saudi Arabia’s tourism offer.

To maximise the desert landscape and farming industry, he said that SCTA was looking for investors in eco-lodges and agri-lodges in the Kingdom.

“We are working on an eco-lodge because we think the desert would be a good opportunity for an investor to develop some kind of project [inspired by] the richness of the desert, camel riding and all of that parallel to the accommodation,” said Al-Eesa.