The Royal Commission for AlUla (RCU) has 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, comprising 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 borders 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.
Jones joined RCU in 2019; in his role, Jones 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, TX, from 2003 to 2019.
Executive director, destination marketing de Souza 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, she was included in the list of Australia's top 50 most innovative chief marketing officers in CMO Magazine 2018.
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.
Shurgold, head of public relations, is a destination communications specialist with more than 15 years expertise in government DMOs 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.
Head of digital, Rahman is a digital experience and marketing specialist with more than 15 years of experience in airlines, travel, leisure, retail and banking sectors across the U.K., United Arab Emirates and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
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.
Head of research and customer insights, Paris has over 18 years of international experience across a variety of industries like travel and 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 has announced 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, Hegra, the 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.
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.