A worthwhile endeavour? Saudi Arabia to inject the equivalent of a whole country's GDP into its tourism sector
Tourism is being ranked a top priority for Saudi tourism officials. The Saudi government is investing heavily in its tourism sector, principally to provide employment opportunities for Saudi graduates.
According to a 2013 MENA tourism and hospitality report by research consultancy Aranca, investment in the travel and tourism sector is expected to increase at a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of four percent to SR 30.9 billion over a 10-year period from 2013-23.
The number of tourists visiting KSA is estimated to increase at a CAGR of two percent to 21.3 million over the period 2013 – 23. Revenues will total SR60.9 billion by 2023 – due to an increase in number of Haj and Umrah tourists and growth of international shopping centres.
To cope with the increasing number of visitors, the Saudi government has outlined a plan to invest more than $30 billion in its airports by 2020, including $10 billion in private investment for the sector. More than $12.5 billion has already been earmarked for the country’s four main international airports in Jeddah, Riyadh, Dammam and Madinah.
Based on the expected growth of the region, the annual Arabian Travel Market (ATM) roadshow took off in Riyadh to deliver a presentation at the offices of the Saudi Commission for Tourism & Antiquities.
“The travel and tourism sector’s direct contribution to Saudi Arabian GDP is projected to increase at a CAGR of four percent to SR83.7 billion by 2023. Put that into perspective, it is equivalent to about nine percent of current Saudi GDP, which is a great achievement. This is solely as the Kingdom looks to diversify its economy away from hydrocarbon receipts,” said Mark Walsh, portfolio director, Reed Travel Exhibitions.
Riyadh is the final leg of the six Middle East destinations being visited by the ATM team during its roadshow which took in Bahrain, Kuwait, Beirut, Muscat and Dubai. A strong delegation from the Kingdom is expected at ATM. Led by the Saudi Commission for Tourism & Antiquities it includes, Saudia Airline, Umrah & Makarim Hospitality Group, Fursan Travel & Leisure, Hanco Rent a Car, EbreezTech, Rahhal International, and Unique Choice.
Meanwhile, Saudi Airlines Cargo will increase its belly capacity on new international routes beginning April 1 through Saudia Arabian Airlines’ new passenger flights to Manchester and Los Angeles.
The Manchester service will be operated by the airline’s B777-200 aircraft and will have a capacity of 9 tons from Riyadh/Jeddah and 12 tons into Riyadh/Jeddah, while the Los Angeles service will be operated by the B777-300 aircraft and will have a capacity of 6 tons from Riyadh/Jeddah and 8 tons into Riyadh/Jeddah. Both destinations will be served three times per week.