ATM: Saudi to invest heavily in tourism over next decade

ATM: Saudi to invest heavily in tourism over next decade

The Arabian Travel Market roadshow arrives in Riyadh today to deliver a presentation at the offices of the Saudi Commission for Tourism & Antiquities, to Saudi participants at this year’s exhibition.

Executives from Reed Travel Exhibitions, the organiser of ATM, are conducting a workshop ahead of this year’s May 5th-8th event in Dubai, bringing together key industry figures in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, to discuss marketing opportunities and how to showcase their proposition to ATM’s 21,000 trade visitors.

The Saudi government is investing heavily in its tourism sector, principally to provide employment opportunities for Saudi graduates.

According to a 2013 MENA tourism and hospitality report by research consultancy aranca, investment in the travel and tourism sector is expected to increase at a CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate) of four per cent to SAR30.9 billion over a ten year period from 2013 to 23.

“The travel and tourism sector’s direct contribution to Saudi Arabian GDP is projected to increase at a CAGR of four per cent to SAR83.7 billion by 2023.

“Put that into perspective it is equivalent to about nine per cent of current Saudi GDP, which is a great achievement, as the Kingdom looks to diversify its economy away from hydrocarbon receipts,” said Mark Walsh, portfolio director, Reed Travel Exhibitions.

The number of tourists visiting KSA is estimated to increase at a CAGR of two per cent to 21.3 million over the period 2013-2023.

Revenues will total SAR 60.9 billion by 2023 - due to an increase in the number of Hajj and Umrah tourists and growth of international shopping centres.

To cope with the increasing number of visitors, the Saudi government has outlined a plan to invest more than US$30 billion in its airports by 2020, including US$10 billion in private investment for the sector.

More than US$12.5 billion has already been earmarked for the country’s four main international airports in Jeddah, Riyadh, Dammam and Madinah.

“These four airports handle 91.5 per cent of total air travel throughout the country, including 72.5 per cent of domestic travel.

“Spending from leisure tourists is expected to rise at a CAGR of 4.4 per cent to SAR 79 billion by 2023,” added Walsh.

Riyadh is the final leg of the six Middle East destinations being visited by the ATM team during its roadshow which took in Bahrain, Kuwait, Beirut, Muscat and Dubai last week.