A recently published report by the Saudi Ministry of Tourism anticipates the local tourism sector to achieve significant growth in the year 2001, according to Al-Watan newspaper. The study predicts that a total of seven million tourists, including pilgrims, will have visited the kingdom throughout the year.
This positive forecast is based, for the most part, on the new Saudi tourism policy, which permits free passage within the kingdom to foreign pilgrims and to other visitors. This new regulation is part of a Saudi effort to diversify its income sources.
In addition, Saudi authorities have recently undertaken measures to expand the local tourism sector by targeting its own citizens. Local hotels and tourist resorts have been making attempts to lure the Saudis, who usually prefer overseas destinations to those at home.
Official figures show that four million Saudi citizens leave the country on holiday every year, and spend on average 45 million Saudi riyals ($12 million) abroad. Therefore, according to the government, it is essential to stimulate this potentially lucrative sector.
A recently published study on specialized tourist markets show that 24 percent of Saudi families prefer tourism close to home to that beyond its borders. The same source added that 47 percent of repliers chose Europe as their preferred holiday destination, while the rest favored Arab states as a vacation option. — (MENA Report)
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