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Saudi Tourism rides on GIS

The Saudi Commission for Tourism & Antiquities has developed a Tourism Geographic Information System to develop the sector and extend geospatial capabilities to non-traditional users of GIS

The Saudi Commission for Tourism & Antiquities (SCTA) was set up in 2000 to develop and organise the tourism sector in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. As part of its mandate to promote tourism in the Kingdom and take full advantage of the fastevolving trend towards e-tourism, the department launched a Web-based GIS for tourists in 2009. The enterprise tourism GIS includes four applications — Web mapping application (website), internal application (Intranet), mobile solution (iOS & Android) and tourism virtual tours — to build an integrated tourism geographic database for providing information services on the kingdom’s tourism from any place and at any time via the Internet or smart mobiles.

Tourism map app
The interactive tourism map (https://tourismmap. scta.gov.sa) provides the public the ability to interact and explore the huge geo-database behind it. The map shows the location of the historical, tourism and cultural sites in the kingdom, in addition to helping the tourists and visitors to search for the nearest accommodation services or the related points of interest to their locations, and how to reach these services by the available navigable roads network and the routing functions.

Internal application
An internal application has been developed to manage and maintain the tourism database through the Intranet and Internet by the employees in SCTA and its branches. Each department has access to the database so they can add required data such as images, statistics, and attributes to control and ensure data quality and validity.

Mobile app (tourism navigator)
Mobile GIS is the expansion of a GIS out of the office, which enables people using their smartphones to query, analyse, and display geographic information. This will be serving the citizen anywhere either inside or outside the kingdom. The mobile application provides some tourism map functions like searching, routing, nearest location, sharing info, and evaluate the tourism sites. It is compatible with the tablets and is available on Apple Store. Soon, it will also be available on Google Play.

Virtual tour
A 360-degree virtual tour is an exciting firstperson view of an actual location. A premier solution for GIS software analysis, it is the choice of surveyors and professionals around the world for visualising and analysing the relationship between 3D data and geography. A 360-degree virtual tour includes tools and data which can be use to perform state-of-the art analysis on key issues. It works with the maps, giving a 360-degree virtual tour and attribute of objects in a single application. Integrating the 360-degree view with GIS enhances the information platform, enabling creation, visualisation, analysis and presentation of information in a better and more effective manner with the real images. Successful implementation of GIS data promotes importance of information over technology. SCTA’s Tourism Geographic Information System is an excellent example of how tourism can be planned using GIS. It provides access to applications and extends geospatial capabilities to non-traditional users of GIS.