The Saudi tourism sector is witnessing significant growth, new data has revealed. Is the country closer to its Vision 2030 goal of a diversified economy?
Tourism sector secures major revenue
Saudi Arabia is expected to generate $5.9 billion in revenue from inbound and outbound tourism, excluding travel expenses for religious purposes such as Hajj during the summer of 2018, the Tourism Information and Research Centre (MAS) told local Saudi newspaper Al Eqtisadiah. The current value of the tourism sector is $26 billion, according to the Center’s data.
The Center also forecast that inbound tourism would grow 15.9% to $2.37 billion during the same period, with the average tourist spending $998 per trip.
These figures reflect positively on the Kingdom’s efforts to diversify their economy away from oil revenues, which is in line with the Crown Prince’s Vision 2030 plan.
MAS noted that the Eastern Province attracted the largest number of incoming tourists with 45.9%, followed by Riyadh with 27.2%.
Family visits top reason for travel
As for the purpose of the visit, tourists that answered “visiting family and relatives” topped at 39%, with “business” following right after at 31.1% and “shopping” at 12.4%.
GCC citizens represented the majority of visitors of the Kingdom, tallied at 50.8%. South Asian tourists came second at 15.2%, and Middle Eastern visitors third at 12.8%.
MAS forecasts inbound and outbound tourist trips will reach 13.5 million by the end of the summer holiday.
The Center notes that outward tourism spending has reached $8 billion, showing a 4.6% year-on-year decrease.
General statistics on the Center’s website reveal that Saudization in the Tourism sector has reached 28.5%, with 993,900 jobs in the sector. This puts Saudi-held jobs in the sector at 283,262.
The number of inbound trips currently sums up to 18 million, with tourism contributing 4.9% to the non-oil sector, at 3.6% GDP.