Asir seeks investors for souvenir shops

Asir is ready to establish its tourism industry, including handicrafts, plants, honey, silverware and antiquities. (AN photo)

Asir is ready to establish its tourism industry, including handicrafts, plants, honey, silverware and antiquities. (AN photo)

Tourism experts and economists have urged investors to place their money in souvenir shops in Asir because they could make returns of between 30 and 100 percent.

Muhammad Al-Ammra, director of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA) in the region, said he plans to get investors together to discuss business opportunities in the sector.

Al-Ammra said the SCTA is currently marketing Asir as an all-year tourism destination.
“Asir is an emerging and promising tourism area. It is ready to establish its tourism industry, including handicrafts, plants, honey, silverware and antiquities,” said Al-Ammra.

He said tourists who visit Asir buy souvenirs representing the features of the region, various handicrafts and even models of local houses. They also buy honey and summer fruits such as pomegranates and grapes.

“Visitors and tourists get about 70 percent of their souvenirs from Asir markets including the Tuesday market, Khamis Mushait, Rafidah and other popular markets across the country,” he said.

Mona Al-Break, secretary general of the Women’s South Charity, said the organization wants to produce souvenirs that tourists can carry easily.

“The charity, under its chairwoman Princess Norah bint Muhammad, has supported many training courses in the field of heritage development such as embroidery and other handicrafts, and provided loans for productive families to produce souvenirs for tourists,” said Al-Break.

Hanbib Allah Turkistani, a professor in business and marketing at King Abdulaziz University, said investors have not placed their money into the souvenir business despite the good profits. He said investors do not need big start-up capital, and that these enterprises create jobs and promote the country’s heritage.

He said many countries around the world depend on the souvenir business to support their economies. “But this business badly needs good management and marketing plans to yield maximum return.”

“The SCTA must conduct feasibility studies for the souvenir business in Asir, Makkah, Hijaz and other regions.” He estimates that some investors can make up to 30 percent returns on their investment.

Economist Fadl Albuainain said many countries around the world have developed their souvenir and handicraft businesses. Asir has the potential to do this, particularly with its heritage and honey products.

Albuainain said that some products could see investors make 100 percent returns.
Tourism expert Khaled Dughaim said tourists across the world buy souvenirs in the countries they visit. “Every country wants to provide these heritage and souvenirs for visitors. Asir is a region that prides itself on its pottery, leather, wood and copper,” he said.

“Productive families have benefited from the sector. The weekly markets in the region have always been a place for tourists to meet and buy presents and souvenirs,” he said.

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