Saudi eyes 88m visitors by 2020
Jeddah, April 10, 2011
The Saudi tourism industry, which has seen significant growth in the recent years, has set an ambitious target to attract over 88 million visitors by 2020 besides creating 900,000 new jobs in this sector, said a report.
The tourism market is expected to continue expansion over the next three years with the year-on-year growth rate put at nearly 7 per cent through 2012, the Arab News reported citing officials of Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA).
The main goal of SCTA is to attract investments through strategies that will support the national economy besides enhancing Kingdom's role in developing local communities, economically and socially, and expanding tourism sector toward achieving its 2020 goals.
Saudi ranked 62 out of 139 countries in the World Economic Forum's Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index for 2011. Specifically, in business environment and infrastructure area, the Kingdom's scored relatively well, putting it in the 41st place, the report said.
The Kingdom's tourism industry earnings from international travelers will reach SR80 billion ($21.3 billion) by 2015, said the report citing the industry forecast form National Commercial Bank's (NCB).
In its Saudi tourism sector review, NCB said despite being the 22nd highest inbound market in the world, the Kingdom is still a long way from fully unleashing the potential of its tourism industry.
A strong emphasis has been placed on the tourism industry, benefiting from the ambitious goal to place Saudi Arabia as one of the top-ten most business competitive nations in the world, the NCB review added.
According to the report, Saudi's tourism expenditure has steadily increased between 2006-2009, growing at a CAGR of 7.1 per cent. However, expenditure in 2009 dipped compared to 2008 as a result of global economic crises and H1N1 virus fears, it added.