© 2020 All rights reserved to Maaal Newspaper
Publisher: Maaal International Media Company
By: Prof. Alaa Alghamdi
As the world at large indulges itself in its share of turmoil and troubles, one might find it refreshing to receive a dose of good news from time to time, and in this case, the good news as far as Saudi Arabia is concerned comes to us from the tourism sector. The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has recently reported that Saudi Arabia’s tourism industry has experienced a substantial rise in international arrivals, peeling off some of the negatives that have befallen the industry throughout the pandemic years. The report boasts a 156% rise in 2023 compared to the pre-COVID numbers of 2019, making this growth a testament to the Kingdom’s industrious tenacity, complete recovery from the pandemic, and its position as a major player in the tourism industry by taking the necessary steps to reinvigorate the Middle East sector. It’s also noteworthy that Saudi Arabia’s tourism sector led the G20 countries in international arrivals growth, ranking as the second-fastest-growing tourist destination globally in the first three quarters of 2023.
This increase in tourism can be attributed to the financial infusions provided by the Kingdom and various infrastructure projects, framing key locations that boast various experiences the Kingdom offers its tourists. For example, if you’re an adventurer, you can explore the rugged peaks of Mada’in Saleh, a UNESCO World Heritage site, while those who are more interested in history can delve into its mysteries; food lovers can indulge in the aromatic spices of local cuisine, and culture devotees can plunge themselves into the vibrant tapestry of traditional music, art, and dance. The numbers speak for themselves, as international visitors spent billions of Saudi Riyals during their trips in 2023, contributing to a staggering 72% increase in the travel balance of payments compared to 2022. The Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA) reported a surplus of 37.8 billion Saudi Riyals achieved by the third quarter of 2023, a testament to the country’s burgeoning appeal. This impressive progress reflects a shift in global perception as Saudi Arabia transforms into a top-tier tourist destination, making the most out of its rich cultural heritage, stunning natural landscapes, and expanding entertainment scene. From the sun-drenched shores of the Red Sea to the dunes of the Empty Quarter, Saudi Arabia offers something for everyone- and the numbers reveal that the world knows it better now than ever.
The Ministry of Tourism aims to continue this growth by focusing on destinations such as AlUla, Diriyah, Yanbu, and Abha and hosting major events such as the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, Diriyah E-Prix, and various cultural festivals. These goals include increasing the tourism sector’s contribution to the domestic product to more than 10%, creating one million more job opportunities, and attracting 100 million annual visits by 2030. These initiatives are part of a strategic approach to enhancing the Kingdom’s global tourism appeal and present significant opportunities for international investors. By blending a combination of taking advantage of a host of natural and human resources and thoughtfully crafted planning, Saudi Arabia’s tourism sector is set for continued growth, and its efforts to attract and cater to international visitors will undoubtedly benefit the country’s economy and cultural exchange impact.
Prof. Alaa Alghamdi