The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has said the aviation industry supports 1.8% of Saudi Arabia's GDP, or SR30.2bn annually. Combined with aviation-enabled tourism, the sector accounts for 3.2% of the kingdom's GDP and 3% of employment, said Tony Tyler, IATA's director general and CEO. "Aviation is a critical component of the Saudi economy. Saudi Arabia's 27 airports handle over 54 million passengers annually, and the numbers are growing at double-digit pace. The aviation investments made in the Gulf region in recent years shows the vital role aviation can play in building and diversifying economies," Tyler said.