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Rapid Growth of Saudi Arabia's Tourism Sector: Driving Economic Diversification and Growth
Jun 14, 2024
by Internet
Abstract : With the vigorous opening of its tourism sector and active development of various tourism facilities, Saudi Arabia has swiftly emerged as one of the fastest-growing industries in the country.

According to the "World Tourism Barometer" report released in January 2024, Saudi Arabia's tourism industry grew by over 32% in 2023, contributing a record-breaking 444.3 billion Saudi Riyals (118.4 billion USD) to the GDP.

The report highlights that Saudi Arabia ranked first among major tourist destinations in terms of international tourist arrivals in 2023 compared to 2019, with a 56% increase in international tourist arrivals, welcoming 100 million tourists ahead of schedule for the "Vision 2030." Subsequently, the target was raised to 150 million, reflecting Saudi Arabia's ambitious plans for continued tourism industry growth.

Julia Simpson, President and CEO of the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), stated, "Saudi Arabia's extraordinary achievements in tourism last year mark a pivotal moment as it strides towards global tourism leadership. With the industry's expansion, it is poised to play a critical role in the future economic diversification of the nation while making significant contributions to global tourism development."

In 2023, the tourism sector's growth of over 32% accounted for 11.5% of the entire economy, marking nearly a 30% increase from previous highs. This data underscores the pivotal role of tourism in Saudi Arabia's economic landscape. Employment opportunities also surged, with 436,000 new jobs created, totaling over 2.5 million jobs, representing nearly one-fifth of national employment.


Furthermore, the report reveals that international tourist spending increased by nearly 57%, reaching 227.4 billion Saudi Riyals, setting a historical record from the previous 93.6 billion Saudi Riyals. Domestic tourist spending also significantly rose by 21.5%, reaching 142.5 billion Saudi Riyals. These figures reflect Saudi Arabia's significant success in attracting both international and domestic tourists.

Ahmed Al-Khateeb, Saudi Minister of Tourism and Chairperson of the UNWTO Executive Council, remarked, "The latest data from WTTC further proves our rapid success in transforming Saudi Arabia's tourism sector." He emphasized that Saudi strategic investments and development plans in tourism are significantly enhancing the country's economic diversification.

WTTC forecasts that in 2024, Saudi Arabia's tourism industry will continue its rapid growth, with projected GDP contributions reaching 498 billion Saudi Riyals. Job opportunities are expected to increase by over 158,000, totaling nearly 2.7 million. Additionally, international tourist spending is projected to reach 256 billion Saudi Riyals, with domestic tourist spending expected to reach 155.2 billion Saudi Riyals.

Looking ahead to 2034, WTTC predicts that Saudi Arabia's tourism industry will contribute 836.1 billion Saudi Riyals to the GDP, accounting for nearly 16% of the country's economy. This indicates that with the continuous expansion of the tourism industry, Saudi Arabia is poised to hold a more prominent position in the global tourism market while further promoting economic diversification and sustainable development.

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