When the Royal Saudi Commission for Al Ula, the organization responsible for Al Ula’s development which includes a UNESCO Heritage Site, began tourism development strategic planning in 2017, they worked with the Boston Consulting Group to identify model destinations around the world, choosing to work with Sedona, Arizona and Jennifer Wesselhoff.
In January 2018, Jennifer and TEI made an on-the-ground assessment of Al Ula and directed workshops on the role of the DMO, product development, marketing and branding and destination management. Following the success of these efforts, TEI’s role expanded to advising on sustainable land use, planning, zoning and destination management.
Throughout 2018 and into 2019, TEI aided in designing a sustainable product development program including plans for museums, an arts district, and programs to enhance and protect historic and natural heritage sites.
These development efforts supported the first Tantora Winter Festival, an 8-week international debut for Al Ula from December 2018 to February 2019. The Festival’s cultural events and internationally known musicians such as Yanni, opera singer Andrea Bocelli and pianist Lang Lang were a major success. The 2019-20 Festival features Rod Steward, Enrique Iglesias and Lionel Richie performing in a purpose-built concert venue under Al Ula’s dazzling night skies.
In 2019, TEI continued advising on sustainable development of Al Ula’s heritage, natural and cultural sites. TEI’s role expanded again to include intensive training of more than 20 Al Ula tour guides at multiple two-week sessions in Arizona. The newly-trained guides will be hosting visitors at the 2019-20 Tantora Festival.
TEI continues to engage in additional product development with several divisions of the Royal Commission on Al Ula.