Travel, Tourism & Hospitality
Tourism industry in Saudi Arabia - statistics & facts
Saudi arabia’s tourism revolution, entertainment and media fueling the tourism boom, key insights.
Total inbound tourist expenditure Saudi Arabia 2015-2022
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Share of travel and tourism contribution to GDP in Saudi Arabia 2015-2032
Leading inbound travel markets from Middle East Saudi Arabia 2022
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- Basic Statistic Inbound visitor growth in the Middle East 2011-2025
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- Premium Statistic Total value of inbound tourist spending GCC 2016-2021
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Inbound visitor growth in the Middle East 2011-2025
Inbound visitor growth in the Middle East from 2011 to 2025
Outbound visitor growth in the Middle East 2011-2025
Outbound visitor growth in the Middle East from 2011 to 2025
Total value of inbound tourist spending GCC 2016-2021
Total value of tourism spending in the Gulf Cooperation Council from 2016 to 2021 (in billion U.S. Dollars)
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- Premium Statistic Share of the GDP of the tourism sector in Saudi Arabia 2013-2028
- Premium Statistic Total inbound tourist expenditure Saudi Arabia 2015-2022
- Premium Statistic Outbound tourism expenditures Saudi Arabia 2018-2022
- Premium Statistic Domestic tourist expenditure Saudi Arabia 2018-2022
- Premium Statistic Distribution of inbound tourist spending Saudi Arabia 2022, by purpose of visit
- Premium Statistic Outbound tourist spending Saudi Arabia 2022, by purpose of visit
Share of the GDP of the tourism sector in Saudi Arabia 2013-2028
Share of the GDP of the tourism sector in Saudi Arabia from 2013 to 2028
Total inbound tourist expenditure in Saudi Arabia from 2015 to 2022 (in billion Saudi riyals)
Outbound tourism expenditures Saudi Arabia 2018-2022
Outbound tourism expenditures in Saudi Arabia from 2018 to 2022 (in billion Saudi Riyals)
Domestic tourist expenditure Saudi Arabia 2018-2022
Domestic tourist expenditure in Saudi Arabia from 2018 to 2022 (in billion Saudi riyals)
Distribution of inbound tourist spending Saudi Arabia 2022, by purpose of visit
Distribution of inbound tourist expenditure in Saudi Arabia in 2022, by purpose of visit
Outbound tourist spending Saudi Arabia 2022, by purpose of visit
Expenditure of outbound tourists from Saudi Arabia in 2022, by purpose of visit (in billion Saudi riyals)
Types of tourism
- Premium Statistic Share of tourist trips Saudi Arabia 2022, by purpose
- Premium Statistic Total inbound tourist trips Saudi Arabia 2022, by purpose
- Premium Statistic Number of leisure inbound tourist trips Saudi Arabia 2015-2022
- Premium Statistic Total outbound tourist trips in 2022, by purpose and nationality
- Premium Statistic Number of outbound leisure tourist trips Saudi Arabia 2022, by country
- Premium Statistic Total domestic tourist trips Saudi Arabia 2022, by purpose
Share of tourist trips in the Saudi Arabia in 2022, by purpose
Total inbound tourist trips Saudi Arabia 2022, by purpose
Total inbound tourist trips in Saudi Arabia in 2022, by purpose (in millions)
Number of leisure inbound tourist trips Saudi Arabia 2015-2022
Number of leisure inbound tourist trips in Saudi Arabia from 2015 to 2022 (in 1,000s)
Total outbound tourist trips in 2022, by purpose and nationality
Number of Saudi and non-Saudi outbound tourist trips in Saudi Arabia in 2022, by purpose (in 1,000s)
Number of outbound leisure tourist trips Saudi Arabia 2022, by country
Number of outbound leisure tourist trips from Saudi Arabia in 2022, by destination country (in thousands)
Total domestic tourist trips Saudi Arabia 2022, by purpose
Total domestic tourist trips in Saudi Arabia in 2022, by purpose (in millions)
- Premium Statistic Number of inbound tourists Saudi Arabia 2018-2022
- Premium Statistic Total number of inbound tourists Saudi Arabia 2022, by region of origin
- Premium Statistic Number of inbound tourists Saudi Arabia 2022, by country of origin
- Premium Statistic Leading cities in inbound tourist arrivals Saudi Arabia 2022, by city
- Premium Statistic Share of inbound tourists Saudi Arabia 2022, by accommodation
- Premium Statistic Average length of stay of inbound tourists Saudi Arabia 2015-2022
Number of inbound tourists Saudi Arabia 2018-2022
Number of inbound tourists to Saudi Arabia from 2018 to 2022 (in millions)
Total number of inbound tourists Saudi Arabia 2022, by region of origin
Total number of inbound tourists in Saudi Arabia in 2022, by region of origin (in millions)
Number of inbound tourists Saudi Arabia 2022, by country of origin
Number of inbound tourists to Saudi Arabia in 2022, by country of origin (in millions)
Leading cities in inbound tourist arrivals Saudi Arabia 2022, by city
Number of inbound tourist arrivals to leading destinations in Saudi Arabia in 2022, by city (in millions)
Share of inbound tourists Saudi Arabia 2022, by accommodation
Share of inbound tourists in Saudi Arabia in 2022, by accommodation type
Average length of stay of inbound tourists Saudi Arabia 2015-2022
Average length of stay of inbound tourists in Saudi Arabia from 2015 to 2022 (in nights)
- Premium Statistic Number of outbound departures from Saudi Arabia 2015-2022
- Premium Statistic Total outbound tourist trips Saudi Arabia 2022, by region and nationality
- Premium Statistic Share of outbound Saudi tourist trips Saudi Arabia 2022, by destination country
- Premium Statistic Share of outbound non-Saudi tourist trips Saudi Arabia 2022, by destination
- Premium Statistic Share of Saudi outbound tourists Saudi Arabia 2022, by accommodation type
- Premium Statistic Share of non-Saudi outbound tourists Saudi Arabia 2022, by accommodation type
Number of outbound departures from Saudi Arabia 2015-2022
Number of outbound tourists from Saudi Arabia from 2015 to 2022 (in millions)
Total outbound tourist trips Saudi Arabia 2022, by region and nationality
Total outbound tourist trips in Saudi Arabia in 2022, by region and nationality (in millions)
Share of outbound Saudi tourist trips Saudi Arabia 2022, by destination country
Share of outbound trips of Saudi nationals in Saudi Arabia in 2022, by destination country
Share of outbound non-Saudi tourist trips Saudi Arabia 2022, by destination
Share of outbound trips of non-Saudi residents in Saudi Arabia in 2022, by destination country
Share of Saudi outbound tourists Saudi Arabia 2022, by accommodation type
Share of Saudi outbound tourists from Saudi Arabia in 2022, by accommodation type
Share of non-Saudi outbound tourists Saudi Arabia 2022, by accommodation type
Share of non-Saudi outbound tourists from Saudi Arabia in 2022, by accommodation type
- Premium Statistic Number of domestic tourists Saudi Arabia 2018-2022
- Premium Statistic Leading cities in domestic tourist trips Saudi Arabia 2022, by city
- Premium Statistic Number of domestic Hajj pilgrims in Saudi Arabia 1999-2022
- Premium Statistic Share of domestic tourists Saudi Arabia 2022, by accommodation
Number of domestic tourists Saudi Arabia 2018-2022
Number of domestic tourists in Saudi Arabia from 2018 to 2022 (in millions)
Leading cities in domestic tourist trips Saudi Arabia 2022, by city
Number of domestic tourist trips to leading destinations in Saudi Arabia in 2022, by city (in millions)
Number of domestic Hajj pilgrims in Saudi Arabia 1999-2022
Annual number of domestic Hajj pilgrims within Saudi Arabia from 1999 to 2022
Share of domestic tourists Saudi Arabia 2022, by accommodation
Share of domestic tourists in Saudi Arabia in 2022, by accommodation type
- Premium Statistic Number of employees in the tourism industry Saudi Arabia 2021, by activity
- Premium Statistic Compensation of tourism employees Saudi Arabia 2021, by activity
- Premium Statistic Share of employee localization in tourism Saudi Arabia 2021, by activity
- Premium Statistic Ratio of male employees in hospitality Saudi Arabia in 2021, by economic activity
Number of employees in the tourism industry Saudi Arabia 2021, by activity
Total number of employees in the tourism industry in Saudi Arabia in 2021, by economic activity (in 1,000 employees)
Compensation of tourism employees Saudi Arabia 2021, by activity
Value of employee compensations in the tourism industry in Saudi Arabia in 2021, by activity (in billion Saudi Riyal)
Share of employee localization in tourism Saudi Arabia 2021, by activity
Share of employment localization in the tourism industry in Saudi Arabia in 2021, by activity
Ratio of male employees in hospitality Saudi Arabia in 2021, by economic activity
Share of male employees in the hospitality sector in Saudi Arabia in 2021, by economic activity
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Saudi Arabia records 156% surge in international tourism arrivals in 2023
Kingdom’s tourism sector emerges as global powerhouse with strong visitor spending
Dubai: Saudi Arabia has marked a significant milestone in its tourism sector, recording a staggering 156 per cent increase in international arrivals in 2023 compared to 2019, according to the World Tourism Organisation’s (UNWTO) Barometer report.
The remarkable growth not only signals a robust recovery from the pandemic’s impact but also establishes the Kingdom as a key catalyst in the resurgence of Middle Eastern tourism, which saw an overall 22 per cent increase in 2023.
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Despite the global tourism sector being 12 per cent below pre-pandemic levels, there were about 1.3 billion international arrivals in 2023. International tourism revenues neared $1.3 trillion, reaching 93 per cent of the 2019 levels. The sector’s direct contribution to the global GDP was around 3 per cent, amounting to $3.3 trillion.
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The UNWTO forecasts a complete recovery in global tourism by 2024, expecting a 2 per cent increase over 2019 figures. Saudi Arabia’s tourism sector, leading the G20 in growth and ranking as the second fastest-growing tourist destination globally in the first three quarters of 2023, stands out significantly.
The Kingdom has witnessed a surge in visitor spending, with the Saudi Central Bank reporting over SR100 billion in international visitor expenditures.
The travel balance of payments indicated a 72 per cent rise from 2022, showcasing a surplus of 37.8 billion Saudi riyals by the third quarter of 2023. These achievements underscore Saudi Arabia’s ascent as a global tourist hotspot, driven by increased traveller confidence in its diverse attractions.
Looking ahead to 2024, the Ministry of Tourism is set to maintain this upward trajectory. The Kingdom plans to highlight destinations such as AlUla, Diriyah, Yanbu, and Abha and host major events like the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, Diriyah E-Prix, and cultural festivals.
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Saudi Arabia’s Travel & Tourism to Have Fastest Growth in the Middle East Over the Next Decade
Saudi Arabia’s Travel & Tourism to have fastest growth in the Middle East over the next decade
Employment in the sector set to double by 2032
Sector expected to surpass pre-pandemic levels by next year
Saudi Arabia to host WTTC’s 22 nd Global Summit later this year
London, UK: The World Travel & Tourism Council ( WTTC ) has revealed the Travel & Tourism sector in Saudi Arabia is expected to grow at an average of 11% annually over the next decade, making it the fastest growing Travel & Tourism in the Middle East.
According to the forecast from WTTC’s latest Economic Impact Report (EIR), this annual growth, more than six times the 1.8% growth rate of the country’s overall economy, will bolster the economic recovery of the Kingdom.
By 2032, the Travel & Tourism sector’s contribution to GDP could reach nearly SAR 635 billion, representing 17.1% of the total economy.
The forecast also reveals Travel & Tourism employment could double over the next 10 years, creating more than 1.4 million jobs, to reach almost three million employed within the sector by 2032.
The projections for both employment and the sector’s contribution to the Kingdom's economy, surpass the ambitious goals set out by the government’s Vision 2030 strategic framework.
By 2023, following two years of heartache, Saudi Arabia’s Travel & Tourism sector's contribution to the national economy could surpass pre-pandemic levels, when it is projected to rise 2% above 2019 levels, to reach nearly SAR 297 billion.
Employment in the sector could also exceed 2019 levels by 14.1%, creating more than 223,000 additional jobs, representing nearly more than 1.8 million by the end of next year.
By the end of this year, the sector’s contribution to GDP is expected to grow 15.2% to nearly SAR 223 billion, amounting to 7.2% of the total economic GDP, while employment in the sector is set to grow by 16.1% to reach more than 1.5 million jobs.
According to the global tourism body, the Kingdom, due to host WTTC’s 22 nd Global Summit in Riyadh from 28 November to 1 December this year, is witnessing a faster than average recovery following the government’s total commitment to the Travel & Tourism sector, ensuring it remained at the forefront of the global agenda.
Julia Simpson, WTTC President & CEO, said: “Throughout these difficult times for our sector, the Saudi Arabia government has recognised the importance of Travel & Tourism and has led the world in its recovery. Through his leadership, Travel & Tourism will become a driving force of the Saudi Arabian economy and will surpass the goals set out in its Vision 2030 blueprint.
“I would like to commend Ahmed Al Khateeb, who has shown strong leadership during this crisis which has boosted the sector’s growth with unprecedented investments and new approaches to tourism.
“I am delighted the Kingdom is hosting our 22 nd Global Summit, where we will be able to continue our efforts of showcasing the importance of the Travel & Tourism sector and look ahead to the future of travel.”
Before the pandemic, Saudi Arabia’s Travel & Tourism total contribution to GDP was 9.7% (SAR 291.6 billion) in 2019, falling to just 6.6% (SAR 190.6 billion) in 2020, representing a staggering 34.6% loss.
The sector also supported nearly 1.6 million jobs, before an almost complete halt to international travel which resulted in a loss of 350,000 (22.2%), to reach just over 1.2 million in 2020.
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Saudi Arabia - Tourism & Culture in Facts, Figures and Statistics
Introduction, promoting tourism and culture, preserving cultural heritage, modern architectural marvels, rise of entertainment and festivals, eco-tourism and natural wonders, culinary adventures: a gastronomic journey, evolution of the hospitality sector, digital transformation in tourism, women in tourism, spiritual tourism: umrah, hajj and holy practices, cultural exchange programs, art, music and traditional crafts, sustainable practices and initiatives, saudi arabia: tourism & culture in facts, figures and statistics.
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- The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia ranked 13th globally, advancing by 12 places on the World Tourism Organization (WTO) index, as one of the top countries receiving international tourists in 2022, compared to the 25th place in 2019.
- More than 28 million tourists are expected to visit the Kingdom this year, in 2023.
- The Kingdom continued to make progress in its tourism sector, as it received about 7.8 million international tourists for all purposes during the first quarter of 2023, representing its highest quarterly performance, up 64% compared to the same period in 2019.
- The Kingdom accomplished a new achievement within the Travel and Tourism Development Index (TTDI), marking the 33rd position globally
- The number of international tourists who visited the Kingdom, for all travel purposes, hit 16.6 million in 2022.
- Revenue in the Travel & Tourism market in Saudi Arabia is projected to reach US$3,819m in 2023.
- Revenue in Saudi Arabia is expected to show an annual growth rate (CAGR 2023-2027) of 3.87%, resulting in a projected market volume of US$4,446m by 2027.
- The largest Travel & Tourism market in Saudi Arabia is the Hotels market with a projected market volume of US$2,506m in 2023.
- In the Hotels market, the number of users in Saudi Arabia is expected to amount to 9.1 million people by 2027.
- User penetration in Saudi Arabia is 25.9% in 2023 and is expected to hit 27.4% by 2027.
- The average revenue per user (ARPU) in Saudi Arabia is expected to amount to US$398.70.
- In the Travel & Tourism market, 85% of total revenue in Saudi Arabia will be generated through online sales by 2027.
- Employment opportunities within the rapidly expanding Saudi tourism sector is increasing due to tourism, which now offers 880,000 jobs countrywide.
- NEOM is estimated to worth US$500 billion to complete. a business and tech canter, expected to contribute US$48 billion to the kingdom's gross domestic product and create 380,000 jobs.
- Qiddiya, The New Entertainment City, planned for completion in 2035, is going to stretch over an area of 334km.
- Qiddiya City is expected to create more than 57,000 jobs for the residents and expatriates by 2030.
- Qiddiya is expected to contribute up to SAR 17 billion of GDP to the economy.
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Q1: is saudi arabia safe for tourists in 2023, q2: what are some must-visit cultural festivals in saudi arabia, q3: are women travelers welcomed in saudi arabia, q4: how can i learn more about vision 2030 and its impact on tourism.
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Saudi tourism sector to be Mena's fastest-growing in next decade, WTTC says
Employment in travel industry set to double by 2032 and exceed pre-pandemic levels by next year.
An ancient Nabataean carved tomb at the archaeological site of Al Hijr (Hegra), one of Saudi Arabia's prime tourist attractions. AFP
Saudi Arabia's travel and tourism sector will grow an average 11 per cent annually over the next decade, making it the Middle East's fastest-growing market, the World Travel & Tourism Council ( WTTC ) has said.
Annual growth in the industry is set to bolster the overall economic recovery of the kingdom, the global tourism body said in a statement on Monday.
By 2032, the sector’s contribution to Saudi Arabia's gross domestic product could reach nearly 635 billion Saudi riyals ($169bn), representing 17.1 per cent of the kingdom's total economy, it said.
“Travel and tourism will become a driving force of the Saudi Arabian economy and will surpass the goals set out in its Vision 2030 blueprint," said Julia Simpson, WTTC president and chief executive.
Saudi Arabia had been developing its tourism industry before the Covid-19 outbreak, as part of its efforts to diversify the country's economy and steer away from dependence on oil. In May, the kingdom achieved the second biggest improvement in ranking among 117 countries featured in the World Economic Forum’s index on travel and tourism. From 2019 to 2021, Saudi Arabia moved up to 33rd position from 43rd, as its score rose by 2.3 per cent.
Employment in Saudi Arabia's travel and tourism sector could double over the next 10 years, creating more than 1.4 million jobs, to reach almost three million employed within the sector by 2032, the WTTC forecasts.
By 2023, Saudi Arabia’s travel and tourism sector contribution to the national economy could surpass pre-pandemic levels, when it is projected to rise 2 per cent above 2019 levels, to reach nearly 297bn riyals.
Employment in the sector could also exceed 2019 levels by 14.1 per cent by the end of next year, the tourism body said.
By the end of 2022, the sector’s contribution to the kingdom's GDP is expected to grow 15.2 per cent to nearly 223bn riyals, amounting to 7.2 per cent of the total economic output, while employment in the sector is set to grow by 16.1 per cent to reach more than 1.5 million jobs.
The kingdom is scheduled to host WTTC’s 22nd Global Summit in Riyadh in November this year.
“I am delighted the kingdom is hosting our 22nd Global Summit, where we will be able to continue our efforts of showcasing the importance of the travel and tourism sector and look ahead to the future of travel," Ms Simpson said.
Before the pandemic, Saudi Arabia’s travel and tourism sector's total contribution to GDP was 9.7 per cent (291.6bn riyals) in 2019, falling to only 6.6 per cent (190.6bn riyals) in 2020.
The sector also supported nearly 1.6 million jobs, before an almost complete halt to international travel, which resulted in a loss of 350,000 jobs (22.2 per cent), to reach slightly more than 1.2 million in 2020.
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Saudi Arabia is positioning itself as the next leader in tourism
Saudi Arabia | Tourism
As part of its long-term plans for economic diversification away from hydrocarbons, Saudi Arabia has set far-reaching goals for the development of its tourism sector. It seeks to achieve 100m domestic and international tourist trips per year, a significant target when compared to global benchmarks. For comparison, France, the global leader in international tourist arrivals, received 90m international visitors in 2019.
Ultimately, success in meeting the 2030 target will depend on the country’s ability to promote a value proposition that appeals to diverse source markets; the expansion and improvement of infrastructure, human capital and technological capabilities; and the adoption of sustainable financing strategies.
The Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent inflationary pressures in 2021 and 2022 disrupted the international tourism market. While the purchasing power of some international travellers has been affected, the most affluent segments have been largely immune to these price pressures, which is positive news for niche tourism segments such as ecotourism and heritage tourism. In light of this, Saudi Arabia is opening up as an international destination at a time of increasingly complex tourism demand. Indeed, the diverse nature of the Kingdom’s tourism giga-projects reflects the intent to cater to this market. For example, The Red Sea Project offers a diverse array of sustainable land and sea luxury experiences, developments in Al Ula and Diriyah capitalise on the Kingdom’s cultural heritage, while NEOM offers opportunities to explore many different concepts including unique nature experiences.
To sustain demand for these extensive projects, Saudi Arabia is looking to attract tourists from a wide variety of source markets. As well as nurturing demand among Muslim pilgrims for the Kingdom’s expanding tourism attractions, Saudi Arabia seeks to increase arrivals from both Western and Asian markets for non-religious tourism. However, the pool from which Saudi Arabia can draw foreign tourists for non-religious activities is finite, and there is strong competition from other more established tourism destinations in the region.
As a result, policymakers are seeking to capitalise on the potential of the Kingdom’s sizeable domestic tourism market, with the government aiming to attract up to a quarter of the $20bn Saudis spent on tourism abroad annually before the pandemic – particularly in destinations such as Bahrain and Dubai – by 2030. These regional destinations have traditionally benefited from insufficient leisure opportunities in Saudi Arabia, where two-thirds of the country’s population is under 35 years of age.
Boosting the number of visitors and tourism expenditure will require an expansion of Saudi Arabia’s transport infrastructure, human resources and digital know-how. With regards to transport, facilitating more arrivals to the Kingdom will be as important as improving internal mobility.
In terms of arrivals, the Saudi Tourism Authority and Dubai-based passenger carrier Emirates signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) in February 2022 to leverage the airline’s global network and boost inbound tourism. In July 2022 the authority announced it would cut airport charges by up to 35%, a move that in part responds to the fierce competition in a region with some of the world’s largest air hubs. It also follows plans to introduce incentives for airlines to fly unprofitable routes, establish a new Riyadh-based airline and build a new airport in the capital, as it targets a vast increase in tourist arrivals.
As for internal mobility, movement in an out of Makkah, Medina and the holy sites is being facilitated through road improvements and the upcoming commissioning of the Haramain High-Speed Rail. Plans are also under way to build a tram system connecting the various landmarks at Al Ula. At a country-wide level, the Saudi Railway Company and Cruise Saudi signed a MoU in April 2022 to advance the integration of marine and railway passenger services.
In terms of human resources, as visits increase and hotel capacity expands – with the expected addition of 310,000 new hotel rooms by 2030 worth $110bn – preventing bottlenecks will require striking the right balance between Saudiisation commitments and operational needs. Efforts to support skills development in the sector will likely be needed.
One of the key tasks for future talent in Saudi tourism will be communicating the Kingdom’s evolving national image and socio-cultural profile effectively in line with its tourism aspirations, as well as building and promoting detailed value propositions for each demand segment. In this regard, boosting the digitalisation of the tourism sector, particularly at the level of marketing, communications and analytics for service development, is viewed as key to transforming the travel industry.
According to a 2021 report by Tourism Economics and Google, the Kingdom is only in the initial stages of tourism digitalisation compared to other destinations. In this context, the report estimates that, with the right set of digitalisation policies and investment, potential gains attributable to digital advances could be vast by 2025. Around 139,000 new jobs could be directly or indirectly generated, and a cumulative increase in tourism spending of $12.2bn could be registered between 2020 and 2025.
To develop appealing destinations and acquire the right capabilities, the Kingdom will have to mobilise vast financial resources. During the fifth iteration of a gathering organised by the Future Investment Initiative – a non-profit organisation run by the Public Investment Fund, Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund – the Ministry of Tourism set the amount of planned investment in the industry at $1trn over the next 10 years. To deploy this level of funding in ways that increase private participation, mitigate risks and promote sustainability – all key aspects of Vision 2030 – collaborative and multi-stakeholder frameworks are required. In this sense, recent developments around the financing of giga-projects indicate what the future might hold.
In January 2022 The Red Sea Development Company (TRSDC) – the developer of The Red Sea Project and Amaala – achieved financial close on a SR14.1bn ($3.76bn) term and revolving loan facility with four leading Saudi banks in what constituted the firstever riyal-denominated green finance facility. This opens the possibility of raising additional financing by capitalising on rising investors’ appetite for green assets. Such funding can support TRSDC’s commitment to have more than 75% of its buildings achieving a LEED Platinum rating, an internationally recognised certification, and to provide net-zero flight schemes for guests. TRSDC’s focus on sustainability integrates with international Saudi Arabia-led initiatives in sustainable tourism, such as the creation of the Sustainable Tourism Global Centre (STGC) in 2021, and the launch of STGC’s Tourism Panel on Climate Change in April 2022, a scientific initiative modelled after the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
Elsewhere, NEOM’s funding roadmap reflects a multi-source approach. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud stated at a press conference in July 2022 that investment in NEOM’s first phase could reach SR1.2trn ($320bn) by 2030. The Public Investment Fund would cover roughly half of the required financing, with the remaining half being drawn from other sovereign wealth funds in the region, private investors and an initial public offering of NEOM itself on the Saudi Exchange by 2024. The creation of NEOM is a project of urban development involving many mixed-use spaces which, by their very nature, allow for risk mitigation by balancing opportunities across several sectors aside from tourism, such as residential and commercial real estate.
Beyond giga-projects, public-private syndicated financing is also being deployed to increase the contribution of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to the sector. To this end, in June 2022 the Tourism Development Fund (TDF) and Arab National Bank launched an $80m Tourism Finance Programme for SMEs and to boost the development of the tourism sector. Meanwhile, a July 2022 tripartite agreement between the TDF, London-headquartered hospitality company Ennismore and asset management firm Al Rahji Capital set up a SR1.5bn ($400m) investment fund for the development of lifestyle hotels.
The Kingdom will have to apply a multi-directional approach in terms of sourcing tourists, addressing capability gaps and ensuring that financial risks are mitigated in a volatile context marked by environmental pressures, and international political and economic instability. Recent developments indicate that the Kingdom’s government and corporate leadership understand the key steps required for success.
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Saudi Arabia Tourism Revenue Growth
- Saudi Arabia Tourism Revenue grew 517.4 % YoY in Dec 2022, compared with a decrease of -26.8 % YoY in the previous year
- Saudi Arabia Tourism Revenue Growth rate data is updated yearly, available from Dec 2005 to Dec 2022
- The data reached an all-time high of 517.4 % in Dec 2022 and a record low of -80.6 % in Dec 2020
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Saudi Arabia Tourism Revenue grew 517.4 % YoY in Dec 2022, compared with a decrease of -26.8 % YoY in the previous year See the table below for more data.
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War Has Already Hurt the Economies of Israel’s Nearest Neighbors
The impact on global growth of the Middle East violence has so far been contained. That’s not the case for Egypt, Lebanon and Jordan, which were already struggling.
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By Patricia Cohen
Reporting from London
In the Red Sea, attacks by Iranian-backed Houthi militants on commercial ships continue to disrupt a crucial trade route and raise shipping costs. The threat of escalation there and around flash points in Lebanon, Iraq, Syria, Yemen and now Iran and Pakistan ratchets up every day.
Despite the staggering death toll and wrenching misery of the violence in the Middle East, the broader economic impact so far has been mostly contained. Oil production and prices, a critical driver of worldwide economic activity and inflation, have returned to pre-crisis levels. International tourists are still flying into other countries in the Middle East like Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar.
Yet for Israel’s next-door neighbors — Egypt, Lebanon and Jordan — the economic damage is already severe.
An assessment by the United Nations Development Program estimated that in just three months, the Israel-Gaza war has cost the three countries $10.3 billion, or 2.3 percent of their combined gross domestic product. An additional 230,000 people in these countries are also expected to fall into poverty.
“Human development could regress by at least two to three years in Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon,” the analysis warned, citing refugee flows, soaring public debt, and declines in trade and tourism — a vital source of revenue, foreign currency and employment.
That conclusion echoed an update last month by the International Monetary Fund, which said it was certain to lower its forecast for the most exposed countries when it publishes its World Economic Outlook at the end of this month.
The latest economic gut punches could not come at a worse time for these countries, said Joshua Landis, director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma.
Economic activity across the Middle East and North Africa was already on a down slide, slipping to 2 percent growth in 2023 from 5.6 percent the previous year. Lebanon has been enmeshed in what the World Bank calls one of the world’s worst economic and financial crises in more than a century and half. And Egypt has been on the brink of insolvency.
Since Hamas fighters attacked Israel from Gaza on Oct. 7, about 25,000 Palestinians have been killed by Israel, according to the Gazan health ministry. The strip has suffered widespread destruction and devastation. In Israel, where the Hamas attacks killed about 1,200 people, according to officials , and resulted in 240 being taken hostage, life has been upended, with hundreds of thousands of citizens called into military service and 200,000 displaced from border areas.
In Jordan, Lebanon and Egypt, uncertainty about the war’s course is eating away at consumer and business confidence, which is likely to drive down spending and investment, I.M.F. analysts wrote.
Egypt, the Arab world’s most populous country, has still not recovered from the rise in the cost of essential imports like wheat and fuel, a plunge in tourist revenue, and a drop in foreign investment caused by the coronavirus pandemic and the war in Ukraine.
Lavish government spending on showy megaprojects and weapons caused Egypt’s debt to soar. When central banks around the world raised interest rates to curb inflation, those debt payments ballooned. Rising prices within Egypt continue to gnaw away households’ buying power and businesses’ plans for expansion.
“No one wants to invest, but Egypt is too big to fail,” Mr. Landis said. He explained that the United States and I.M.F. were unlikely to let the country default on its $165 billion of foreign loans given its strategic and political importance.
The drop in shipping traffic crossing into the Red Sea from the Suez Canal is the latest blow. Between January and August, Egypt brought in an average of $862 million per month in revenue from the canal, which carries 11 percent of global maritime trade.
James Swanston, an emerging-markets economist at Capital Economics, said that according to the head of the Suez Canal Authority, traffic was down 30 percent this month from December and revenues were 40 percent weaker than 2023 levels.
“That’s the biggest spillover effect,” he said.
For these three struggling economies, the drop in tourism is particularly alarming. In 2019, tourism in Egypt, Lebanon and Jordan accounted for 35 percent to nearly 50 percent of their combined goods and services exports, according to the I.M.F.
In early January, confirmed tickets for international arrivals to the wider Middle East region for the first half of this year were 20 percent higher than they were last year, according to ForwardKeys, a data-analysis firm that tracks global air travel reservations.
But the closer the fighting, the bigger the decline in travelers. Tourism to Israel has mostly evaporated, further hammering an economy upended by full-scale war.
In Jordan , airline bookings were down 18 percent. In Lebanon, where Israeli troops are fighting Hezbollah militants along the border, bookings were down 25 percent.
“Fears of further regional escalation are casting a shadow over travel prospects in the region,” said Olivier Ponti, vice president of insights at ForwardKeys.
In Lebanon, travel and tourism has previously contributed a fifth of the country’s yearly gross domestic product.
“The No. 1 site in Lebanon is Baalbek,” said Hussein Abdallah, general manager of Lebanon Tours and Travels in Beirut. The 2,000-year-old Roman ruins are so spectacular that visitors have suggested that djinns built a palace there for the Queen of Sheba or that aliens constructed it as an i ntergalactic landing pad .
Now, Mr. Abdallah said, “it is totally empty.”
Mr. Abdallah said that since Oct. 7, his bookings had dropped 90 percent from last year. “If the situation continues like that,” he said, “many tour operators in Beirut will go out of business.”
Travel to Egypt also dropped in October, November and December. Mr. Landis at the Middle East Center in Oklahoma mentioned that even his brother had canceled a planned trip down the Nile, choosing to vacation in India instead.
Khaled Ibrahim, a consultant for Amisol Travel Egypt and a member of the Middle East Travel Alliance , said cancellations started to pour in after the attacks began. Like other tour operators he offered discounts to popular destinations like Sharm el-Sheik at the southern tip of the Sinai Peninsula, and occupancy hit about 80 percent of normal.
He is less sanguine about salvaging the rest of what is considered the prime tourist season. “I can say this winter, January to April, will be quite challenging,” Mr. Ibrahim said from Medina in Saudi Arabia, where he was leading a tour. “Maybe business drops down to 50 percent.”
Jim Tankersley contributed reporting from Davos, Switzerland.
Patricia Cohen writes about global economics and is based in London. More about Patricia Cohen
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Ayodhya’s $10 Billion Revamp Sparks Ambitious Tourism Projections: India Report
Peden Doma Bhutia , Skift
January 23rd, 2024 at 11:00 PM EST
Despite the surge in online travel searches, the ultimate success in reaching the 50 million tourist goal for Ayodhya hinges on translating the ambitious infrastructure plans into tangible reality.
Peden Doma Bhutia
The Skift India Newsletter is your go-to platform for all news related to travel, tourism, airlines, and hospitality in India.
As Ayodhya undergoes a massive transformation with a projected $10 billion redevelopment, including a new airport, upgraded railway station, township, and improved road connectivity, the town could attract over 50 million tourists annually, according to a report by brokerage firm Jeffries.
Why 50 Million Is a Big Number: The town in Uttar Pradesh has been in the news for Monday’s inauguration of the temple dedicated to Lord Ram. It is touted to surpass other religious tourism hotspots like the Golden Temple that receives around 30-35 million visitors annually, and Tirupati temple that sees 25-30 million visits.
In a global context, Vatican City attracts approximately 9 million tourists yearly, while Mecca in Saudi Arabia welcomes around 20 million.
Religious Tourism in India: Religious tourism is a significant segment of India’s tourism industry, as evidenced by increased bookings to spiritual destinations on platforms like Yatra Online and MakeMyTrip. MakeMyTrip observed 97% growth in searches for spiritual destinations between 2021-2023, with Ayodhya experiencing a surge of 585% in 2023 compared to 2021.
On-platform searches for Ayodhya from India increased by 1,806% since the inauguration announcement, with the peak search being recorded on December 30, the day of the airport inauguration, MakeMyTrip noted.
Temple for India’s Tourism Boost: Jeffries believes that despite infrastructural bottlenecks, popular religious centers in India attract annual tourist traffic of 10-30 million. The report suggests that Ayodhya, with improved connectivity and infrastructure, could have a substantial economic impact and serve as a template for India’s tourism boost.
Infrastructure Development so Far: With the first phase of the new Ayodhya airport operational, accommodating 1 million passengers, additional domestic capacity and an international terminal are expected by 2025, capable of handling 6 million passengers. The upgraded Ayodhya railway station now has double the capacity, accommodating 60,000 passengers per day.
The Hotels: While Ayodhya currently has 17 hotels with 590 rooms, 73 new hotels are in the pipeline, of which 40 are already under construction. Major players like Indian Hotels Company, Marriott, Wyndham and ITC are also investing in the region.
Last week Oyo announced the inauguration of 65 hotels and homes in Ayodhya to support the anticipated surge in tourism.
Oyo has also announced the launch of 400 properties to push religious tourism in destinations like Ayodhya, Puri, Shirdi, Varanasi, Amritsar, Tirupati, Haridwar, Katra-Vaishno Devi, and the Char Dham route by the end of this year.
Indian Hotels Company, that owns the Taj hotels, announced the signing of a third hotel in Ayodhya on Monday.
Surge in Online Tavel Searches: Recognizing that Ayodhya’s hotel infrastructure is still in development, Yatra Online reported a 70% increase in booking queries from December to January for Ayodhya.
“Flight bookings to Ayodhya have surged fourfold compared to the previous month. Simultaneously, daily searches for Ayodhya have quadrupled in January compared to December last year,” said Dhruv Shringi, CEO and whole-time director of Yatra Online.
Cleartrip also observed a 32% uptick in air bookings to Ayodhya. Prahlad Krishnamurthi, chief business officer of Cleartrip, had earlier shared, “We have seen a 300% surge in flight searches, along with a 200% spike in hotel searches. Hotel prices have increased by 60%, and flight fares have risen by 10% compared to the first week of January 2024.”
On Tuesday, Cleartrip and Flipkart Travel noted an overall 1500% increase in searches for Ayodhya across the platform.
Interglobe Enterprises Gets Udaan’s Aditya Pande as Group CEO
Interglobe Enterprises, the parent company of Indian low-cost carrier Indigo, has named Aditya Pande as its group CEO starting March 1.
In this role, Pande will be responsible for shaping Interglobe’s strategic agenda, overseeing and strengthening the leadership of the company’s line businesses and corporate staff functions, excluding Indigo, Interglobe said in a statement.
Pande will report to Rahul Bhatia, the group managing director of Interglobe Enterprises.
Pande joins Interglobe from Udaan , India’s largest enterprise e-commerce company, where he was chief financial officer for the past three years. Udaan announced Pande’s exit on Monday.
In a career spanning 25 years, Pande had been the chief financial officer at Indigo and has had roles at General Electric and US accounting firm Arthur Andersen.
MakeMyTrip’s Highest-Ever Quarter
MakeMyTrip reported its highest-ever quarterly gross bookings, revenue, and profit in its third quarter for fiscal year 2024. Gross bookings reached $2.1 billion, growth of 22%, while adjusted operating profit grew by 70% to $33.4 million. Read Skift’s coverage of how the online travel agency achieved this feat: MakeMyTrip Reports Record-Breaking Quarter: Here’s How They Made It
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Tags: cleartrip , flipkart , india , indigo airlines , makemytrip , marriott , oyo , religious travel , skift india report , taj hotels , wyndham , yatra
Photo credit: Glimpses of the inauguration ceremony of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya on January 22. Press Information Bureau
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Tanzania eyes tourism growth to boost economy in 2024
Tanzania's tourism sector could potentially generate up to Sh3.38 trillion in additional revenue in the next financial year from Sh2.38 trillion in the current financial year, a senior official said on Tuesday.
Tanzania's tourism industry is making a remarkable comeback nearly four years after its revenues plummeted due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- The tourism sector could potentially generate up to Sh3.38 trillion in additional revenue in the next financial year, according to a senior official.
- Enhancing the business climate and expanding projects are some of the factors that could greatly boost revenue collection.
The Principal Secretary in the Ministry of State, Office of the President, Finance and Planning, Dr Juma Maliki Akili, disclosed this at the ‘2024/2025 Economy and Budget annual forum’ for stakeholders from local government and non-governmental organisations (NGOs).
While addressing the gathering at the Sheikh Idriss Abdulwakil Multipurpose Hall, Dr Akili explained that the revenue collection until the end of the current financial year, which ends in June this year, is projected to hit Sh2.38 trillion.
He added that the figure could significantly increase as a result of factors such as enhanced dedication from stakeholders in tax compliance and encouragement of voluntary tax contributions, intensified efforts by the Zanzibar Revenue Authority (ZRA) and Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA), along with robust collaboration between the authorities and principal institutions.
“We predict to have economic growth of 7.2 per cent next year, and our revenue collection may increase to Sh3.38 trillion, while the number of tourists will increase to 829,000 next year from 638,000, ending the financial year,” Dr Akili said, according to Daily News .
Dr Akili expressed confidence that the target would be achieved, stating that in 2019, economic growth slowed down due to COVID-19 and that good planning has helped Zanzibar recover.
According to him, increasing knowledge about tax among ZRA and TRA staff, improving the business/investment environment, increasing projects, and increasing production from the blue economy are added advantages to an admirable bright future for Zanzibar.
Last year, data from the Bank of Tanzania revealed that tourism has staged an impressive recovery, contributing $2.99 billion to foreign exchange earnings in July 2023, compared to $1.95 billion in July 2022.
The bank also noted that this resurgence in tourism and increased earnings from gold have played a pivotal role in boosting Tanzania's service earnings to over $5 billion for the first time in its history.
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