Apart from the main cities' infrastructure and construction projects, the government plans to double the number of UNESCO heritage sites to boost domestic tourism.

Vision 2030 intends to encourage household spending on cultural and entertainment activities inside the country from the current 2.9 percent to six percent.

Colliers International's Saudi Arabia Hospitality Market Report revealed that domestic tourism will rise 7.5 percent per annum until 2020.

Sivanander highlighted that the developments currently underway also create a potential for the business segment as the influx of technical consultants and other specialists, who are required for such projects, is expected.

"Nationalisation is another key aspect [of Vision 2030], which will be helpful for driving more talented Saudis to jobs in the tourism industry.

The entire campaign helps the rest of the region to take notice and focus their [attention on] Saudi Arabia's business strategy," concluded Sivanander.

The industry professionals acknowledge the call for attracting diverse tourism segments, as Mahfouz summarised, "Our aim is to play a significant part in the expected growth of the industry in the coming years, not only in the hospitality and tourism for religious sector but for business and leisure too."

UPSHOT OF ECONOMIC RECESSION

The Sharp decrease of oil prices in 2015 and economic consequences set the ground for Vision 2030 to facilitate the Kingdom's shift from its oil-based economy.

With tourism being considered as a key player to fill the gaps after diversifying and moving the focus away from the oil, the Kingdom's future plans for the investment in tourism promise an increase by USD8 billion to almost USD46 billion in 2020, as indicated by WTTC's announcement in 2016.

Given that the strategic plan was only unveiled in April 2016, the tourism industry professionals have not as yet observed its direct effects and are realistic about pertaining tight budgets for the moment.

In fact 2016 proved as a challenging year for the hospitality sector, with overall drop in occupancy levels of 4.8 percent and with average daily rates falling 3.9 percent on 2015.

Low oil prices, precautionary corporate measures and overall government cuts in spending are considered the main reasons.

As Naureem Imran, marketing executive, Four Points by Sheraton Riyadh Khaldia, confirmed, "The property is not yet directly affected by the policies of Vision 2030.

The industry is still influenced by the recession and the hotel is actively working on cost cutting."

Nevertheless, she remains positive about the future gradual benefits of the programme.