The Royal Commission for AlUla (RCU) announced the appointment of a new global marketing team helmed by senior leader Melanie de Souza, Executive Director, Destination Marketing. De Souza has convened an international team to promote the destination, comprised of Tyler Gosnell, Head of International Marketing; Zoe Shurgold, Head of Public Relations; Sami Rahman, Head of Digital; Charlotte Eland, Events Marketing Director; and Hector Paris, Head of Research and Customer Insights. The marketing team joins de Souza and Philip J. Jones, Chief Destination Management and Marketing Officer, to support the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 tourism plan—which, in October 2019, saw the country open its long-shuttered boarders to international tourists. The RCU team will promote the destination globally, including in the U.S. market, highlighting AlUla’s history, cultural offerings, and modern architectural wonders, starting with the local reopening of the region on October 29, 2020.
To support its tourism strategy, the Royal Commission for AlUla has appointed marketing and communications and travel trade representation agencies in the U.S. market, selecting Wagstaff Media + Marketing and Advocate Travel Marketing respectively to launch the brand in the American market in early 2021.
Phillip J. Jones joined the Royal Commission of AlUla (RCU) in 2019. In this role Jones actively drives the strategy for the development, promotion, expansion, and reputation of AlUla as a global tourism brand and destination in line with RCU’s strategic objectives. Prior to his role at the Royal Commission of AlUla, Jones served as the President and CEO of VisitDallas in Dallas, Texas, USA from 2003 to 2019.
“AlUla is a cultural oasis with incredible offerings that we cannot wait to share with the world,” says Jones. “We have assembled an outstanding international team to develop the ‘Experience AlUla’ brand, bringing the nature, archaeological treasures, cultural heritage, development of adventure travel experiences, luxury accommodations, and dining offerings to life for markets globally.”
Melanie de Souza, Executive Director, Destination Marketing at the Royal Commission for AlUla, leads a team of specialists to develop the brand, digital assets, trade and consumer marketing, and PR to launch AlUla to the world.
A marketing leader with an outstanding track record of achievement in the tourism and hospitality industries in Australia and Asia, Melanie was included in the list of Australia’s top 50 most innovative Chief Marketing Officers in CMO Magazine 2018.
“The U.S. market is a new and important international market for the destination,” says de Souza. “We look forward to sharing AlUla’s unique experiences with American leisure, business and educational travelers who are looking for the next undiscovered travel gem.”
Tyler Gosnell, Head of International Marketing, is a marketing professional with strong experience in the global travel space where he’s run programs that meet traveler needs and produce results in mature and emerging global source markets for leading DMOs including Visit California and San Francisco Travel.
Zoe Shurgold, Head of Public Relations, is a destination communications specialist with more than 15 years expertise in government DMO’s around the globe including Visit London and Visit England in the U.K., Tourism Australia in its North American office, and Visit Victoria in Melbourne.
Sami Rahman, Head of Digital, is a digital experience and marketing specialist with more than15 years of experience in airlines, travel, leisure, retail, and banking sectors across the U.K., United Arab Emirates, and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Charlotte Eland, Events Marketing Director, has worked for the Royal Commission for AlUla for two years and previously worked with Edelman Middle East leading Dubai Tourism’s global communications program across 26 offices.
Hector Paris, Head of Research and Customer Insights, has over 18 years of international experience across a variety of industries like travel & tourism, FMCG, banking, automotive, entertainment, etc., leading qualitative and quantitative teams to integrate advanced analytics and brand strategy frameworks for top brands around the globe.
The global marketing team is excited to announce the reopening of the region to international travelers on October 29, 2020, part of a vision to establish AlUla as a global destination in north-west Saudi Arabia for cultural, historic and eco-tourism. AlUla will celebrate with opening weekend activities for locals and visitors alike including access to three of the four main heritage sites which have been closed off to the public for more than two year. This includes the UNESCO World Heritage site, Hegrathe ancient Kingdom of Dadan and the Lions Tombs, the ‘open air’ library of Jabal Ikmah with its 500 plus inscriptions in more than 10 languages. All guided by local Rawi (Arabic storytellers) and archaeologists.
Luke Jones, Director of Advocate Travel Marketing, said “AlUla has exceptional tourism assets of cultural and historical significance to the world, and of particular interest to Americans. In partnership with Wagstaff, we are excited to be part of the RCU team introducing the wonders of AlUla to USA customers and travel trade alike.”