His excellency Ahmad Al-Khateeb, the newly appointed president of the Saudi Commission for Tourism & National Heritage, has been promoting the domestic tourism industry during a visit to Arabian Travel Market in Dubai.
Al-Khateeb, who stepped into the role at the start of the year, was at the industry leading event to promote Vision 2030, an ambitious scheme to diversify the destination away from oil revenue.
Key to the plans are the Red Sea Development Company, which will be working on a project to build as many as 50 new hotels in to the north of the country in the coming years.
Saudi Arabia’s travel and tourism sector more generally is expected to contribute $71 billion to the country’s GDP in 2019, according to data from the World Travel & Tourism Council.
World Travel Awards founder Graham Cooke greets Ahmad Al-Khateeb at Arabian Travel Market
According to data from Arabian Travel Market’s research partner, Colliers, international arrivals to Saudi Arabia are expected to increase 5.6 per cent per year from 17.7 million in 2018 to 23.3 million in 2023.
Religious tourism is expected to remain the bedrock of the sector over the next decade, with a goal of attracting 30 million pilgrims to the kingdom by 2030, an increase of 11 million from the 19 million Hajj and Umrah pilgrims that visited the country in 2017.
Vision 2030 has set aside $64 billion to invest in culture, leisure and entertainment projects over the next decade, which will significantly add to the attractiveness of the country as a touristic destination, according to a recent report from real estate firm Savills.
The first phase of the Red Sea project, which is estimated to grow the kingdom’s GDP by US$5.86 billion and will consist of an airport, marinas, up to 3,000 hotel rooms and various recreational activities, is expected to complete during 2022.
Additionally, last year Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund announced the development of Amaala, a new ultra-luxury tourism mega-project which is earmarked for completion in 2028.
The development will add 2,500 hotel rooms – further boosting the accommodation offering for both domestic and international visitors alike.
Arabian Travel Market is the leading international travel and tourism event in the Middle East for inbound and outbound tourism professionals.
Last year the event attracted almost 40,000 industry professionals, with representation from 141 countries over the four days.
This edition of Arabian Travel Market will showcase over 2,500 exhibiting companies across 12 halls at Dubai World Trade Centre.
Arabian Travel Market will be held at the Dubai World Trade Centre until May 1st.