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Saudi tourism is started

Riyadh

Riyadh

After an era of being off-limits to foreign tourists, Saudi Arabia now wants show itself off, challenging its old ways. Under the pressure of the sharp drop in hydrocarbon prices, it introduced a vast program aiming to rejuvenate the economy, titled “Vision 2030”. It didn’t take long after the announcement to see results:several large-scale projects began transforming the tourism sector, whose revenue should reach 81 billion USD by 2026.

After an era of being off-limits to foreign tourists, Saudi Arabia now wants show itself off, challenging its old ways. Under the pressure of the sharp drop in hydrocarbon prices, it introduced a vast program aiming to rejuvenate the economy, titled “Vision 2030”. It didn’t take long after the announcement to see results:several large-scale projects began transforming the tourism sector, whose revenue should reach 81 billion USD by 2026.

Becoming a tourism heavyweight, regionally and internationally

The Saudi Commission for Tourism and Heritage (SCTH), headed by Prince Sultan Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud will allow the Kingdom to make an impact in terms of culture and attractiveness regionally, which by extension should improve its economic and labor prospects locally.

A few months after the official launch, strategic axes of the “Vision 2030” program have attained rates of dynamism that hasn’t been felt in the sector since 2004.

 

A transformation of the tourism industry:

2004 2016 Progress
Revenu from the tourism industry in Saudi Arabia SR57.3 billion
($15.3 billion)
SR166.8 billion
($44.5 billion)
x 2.9 (+291%)
Number of permits granted to industry players 1402 6454 x 4.6 (+460%)
Number of international hotel industry players 8 (2002) 25 x 3.12 (+312%)

This progress has not gone unnoticed by international players in the hotel and catering sector: only eight foreign companies were present in the Kingdom in 2002, and over 25 today. This evolution has no doubt been supported by religious tourism, which is vital to the country, as well as the constant rise in domestic tourism (47.5 million trips recorded in 2016).

 

Ambitious goals for both international and domestic travel:

Expected annual growth per year in the domestic tourism sector, until 2020 7.5%
Expected annual growth per year in the international tourism sector, until 2020 6.1%

Colossal objectives for employment

Despite a 300% hike in tourism sector-related jobs since 2004, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia isn’t stopping there. In fact, authorities aim to increase that figure by 30% by 2020, engaging some 1.2 million people.

Saudi Aramco, in order to achieve this goal, has announced the setting up of a training center for tourism-related skills, which should undertake the training of 5,000 men and women from the Kingdom, over the next 4 years.

 

Creating some 300,000 tourism-related jobs:

2004 2016 2020 Projections
Number of persons employed in the tourism sector 333,000 936,000 1,200,000

A spread in infrastructure investment

During the Arabian Travel Market show in April 2017, Saudi Arabia revealed a certain number of building sites under construction to implement the transformation: amusement parks, shopping malls and monumental skyscrapers (the newly-announced Kingdom Tower in Jeddah should be the world’s tallest tower).

Announced at the beginning of this year’s second quarter, the latest project in the Kingdom promises to be -quite literally- spectacular: an entertainment city, bringing together culture, sport and play, will be built southwest of the capital. It’s surface area is said to be 334 square kilometers, or thrice the size of Paris. Dubbed as a capital of “future adventures” by Defense Minister Mohammad bin Salman Al Saud, the first brick should be laid in 2018, with a launch date planned for 2020.