Ronaldo Visits Saudi’s Most Expensive Hotel to Put Country on ‘Global Tourism Map’

Skift Take

Ronaldo plugs The Red Sea to his 600 million followers.

Football icon and Al-Nassr player Cristiano Ronaldo is currently staying at – and promoting – The Red Sea. The coastal destination is a flagship project of Saudi Arabia’s tourism dream, expected to house 50 luxury hotels by the end of the decade.

Between two Instagram posts, Ronaldo has amassed over 16 million likes, tagging Visit Red Sea and The St. Regis Resort Red Sea in one of them.

As Skift reported, St. Regis Red Sea is currently the country’s most expensive hotel, being outdone only by another Marriott property opening at The Red Sea in May. A stay right now costs $1,700 a night, driven down slightly by a deal by Marriott for Ramadan.

Playing for a Saudi Arabia football team, Ronaldo is one of the country’s most powerful tools for driving tourism and changing public image.

The developer of the Red Sea, Red Sea Global, personally met with the player and his family. RSG Group CEO John Pagano stated: “It was a tremendous honor to have football legend Cristiano Ronaldo and his beautiful family enjoy time together at The Red Sea. His incredible accomplishments speak for themselves, but his humility and interest in what we’re doing and how we’re doing it differently inspired us most.”

“We wish him all the best on and off the pitch as we put Saudi Arabia firmly on the global tourism map together.”

In January 2024, fellow footballer Lionel Messi took part in an ad campaign promoting Saudi’s newest tourism spots, while breaking “outdated stereotypes.”

Last year in May, Messi shared photos from his trip to Diriyah in Saudi Arabia, fulfilling contractual obligations tied to his partnership with the country’s tourism authority. A report in the New York Times said the deal could earn him $25 million over three years.

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