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Wed, 12 June 2024

Saudi Arabia's Travel and Tourism Sector Continues to Break Records

(12/06/24)  The World Travel & Tourism Council’s (WTTC) 2024 Economic Impact Research (EIR) has revealed a record-breaking year for tourism in Saudi Arabia, with new records in GDP contribution, job creation and visitor spend.

Last year, Saudi Arabia’s travel and tourism sector grew by more than 32% to contribute a record-breaking SAR 444.3 billion to Saudi’s GDP, representing 11.5% of the entire economy.

That total exceeds the previous record by almost 30% and underscores the sector’s pivotal new role in the nation’s economic framework.

Jobs supported by the sector grew by 436,000 to reach more than 2.5 million, representing almost one in five jobs in the country.

Although the jobs lost during the pandemic were fully recovered in 2022, these latest figures shows that employment in the travel and tourism sector has increased almost 24% since the previous peak.

Room at the Four Seasons Hotel Riyadh. Click to enlarge.
Room at the Four Seasons Hotel Riyadh

International visitor spending surged by almost 57% to reach SAR 227.4 billion, breaking the previous record by SAR 93.6 billion, while domestic visitor spending grew by 21.5% to reach SAR 142.5 billion.

Seven years ahead of its target, Saudi Arabia welcomed 100 million tourists in 2023 and is now surging toward even greater heights having set an ambitious aim of attracting 150 million tourists by 2030.

“The latest data from WTTC provides further evidence of the rapid success we have achieved in transforming Saudi Arabia’s tourism industry,” said said His Excellency Ahmed Al-Khateeb, Minister of Tourism of Saudi Arabia and Chairman of the Executive Council of UN Tourism. “Tourism is a key pillar of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 economic diversification plans and we have made great strides promoting investment in the sector - with more than $800 billion earmarked by 2030 - as well as creating new jobs and growing the contribution of tourism to GDP.”

This year, travel and tourism is forecast to continue growing at pace with GDP contribution set to reach SAR 498 billion, while jobs will increase by more than 158,000 jobs to reach nearly 2.7 million.

International visitor spending is projected to reach SAR 256 billion, almost double the previous high point, and domestic visitor spending is forecast to reach SAR 155.2 billion

WTTC has also forecast that the Saudi Arabia's travel and tourism sector will grow its annual GDP contribution to a staggering SAR 836.1 billion by 2034, almost 16% of the Saudi Arabian economy, and will employ more than 3.6 million people across the country, with one in five people working in the sector.

“Saudi Arabia’s travel and tourism sector's extraordinary achievements last year mark a pivotal moment in its journey towards becoming a global tourism leader,” said Julia Simpson, WTTC President & CEO. “This success is a direct result of the Kingdom's visionary commitment to the sector, showcasing an impressive fusion of cultural heritage and innovative tourism initiatives. As the sector continues to expand, it promises to play a crucial role in the nation's diversified economic future, while contributing significantly to global travel and tourism development.”

The Middle Eastern travel and tourism sector grew by more than 25% in 2023 to reach almost $460 billion. Jobs reached nearly 7.75 million and international spending grew by 50% to reach $179.8 billion. Domestic visitor spending grew by 16.5% to reach more than $205 billion.

WTTC has forecast that the Middle Eastern travel and tourism sector will continue to grow throughout 2024 with the GDP contribution set to reach $507 billion. Jobs are forecast to reach 8.3 million, international visitor spending is forecast to reach $198 billion and domestic visitor spending is expected to reach more than $224 billion.

See also: Saudi Arabia's Air Connectivity Program - HD Video Interview with Rashed Alshammari, Vice President Commercial.

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