Saudi Arabia to attract 15.8 million tourists by 2014
- Saudi Arabia: Wednesday, February 15 - 2012 at 11:13
- PRESS RELEASE
The number of tourists heading to the Kingdom is expected to reach 15.8 million by 2014, up from around 13 million in 2010, according to international industry consultant Business Monitor International (BMI).
In terms of its 2011 performance, STR Global reports that the Kingdom recorded positive results in three key areas of occupancy, rate and RevPar despite the Arab Spring. Occupancy levels rose by 8.6% to 58.2%, while RevPar grew by an impressive 17.4% and average daily rates increased by 8.1%.
Consistent with those results, Arabian Travel Market (ATM), the leading travel exhibition in the Middle East, has seen visitor registrations up by 118%.
The number in visitors interested in buying travel products and services from the Kingdom has risen 116% to 1,168 compared with the same period last year witnessing strong online visitor interest months ahead of the event, from travel professionals in the Kingdom.
"Saudi Arabia continues to focus on its tourism industry as it looks to diversify away from its dependence on oil, with revenues from tourism accounting for around 3.6% of GDP," said Mark Walsh, Portfolio Director, Reed Travel Exhibitions.
"The tourism authority has announced it aims to attract 88 million tourists by 2020 as the kingdom focuses on developing religious tourism and business travel in particular," he added.
Religious tourism remains the main reason for overseas visitors to Saudi. More than half of inbound visitors travel to Mecca and Medina, making it a major focus for major investment in hotels and leisure development.
The Kingdom issued 9.5 million religious visas last year, up 11.3% from 2010, according to the Ministry of Hajj website, with Umrah visas rising by one million in 2011 from 2010. Nearly two million foreign pilgrims arrived to perform Haj last year.
Saudi Arabia's government is undertaking major infrastructure initiatives to provide better services to pilgrims including enhancement of the Holy Mosque in Mecca as well as expanding and upgrading King Abdulaziz International Airport, Jeddah, and Madinah Airport, as well as an aggressive marketing strategy.
Overall pre-event visitor registrations for the four-day Arabian Travel Market show, which opens on 30 April 2012, are already up 132% from the same time last year, at nearly 2,000 visitors. Exhibitors from the Kingdom already include the Saudi Commission for Tourism & Antiquities, Al Hokair Group, Al Khazama Management Company and e-travelgate.
Held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE, Ruler of Dubai and approaching its nineteenth year, the show has grown to become the largest showcase of its kind in the region and one of the biggest in the world. Last year 2,232 exhibitors covering nearly 20,000 square metres, attracted more than 22,000 attendees.
The line-up for this year's Arabian Travel Market will bring together annual favourites and a number of brand new events including the inaugural UNWTO regional tourism ministers' conference and the WTM Vision forum, which will focus on Middle East travel trends and the online travel market.
Covering the entire week, the popular Seminar Theatre series of sessions will address industry hot topics from developments in the aviation sector and hotel branding to Sharia-compliant travel.
The all-new Tech Theatre is a dedicated platform that provides an opportunity to gain invaluable insight into leading edge industry-related technologies including social media and GDS.
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