Saudi eyes 15.8m tourists by 2014
Riyadh, February 14, 2012
The number of tourists heading to Saudi Arabia is expected to reach 15.8 million by 2014, up from around 13 million in 2010 boosted by religious, business and domestic tourism, according to a report.
The Kingdom’s hospitality sector will grow in tandem, with some 381,000 new hotel rooms expected by 2015, representing 63 per cent of additional room stock against 2010 inventories, the leading industry consultant Business Monitor International (BMI) said in its report.
Consistent with those results, Arabian Travel Market (ATM), the leading travel exhibition in the Middle East, has seen visitor registrations up by 118 per cent, said the organisers.
In terms of its 2011 performance, STR Global reports that the Kingdom recorded positive results in three key areas of occupancy, rate and RevPar despite the Arab Spring.
The occupancy levels rose by 8.6 to 58.2 per cent, while RevPar grew by an impressive 17.4 per cent to $120 and average daily rates increased by 8.1 per cent to reach $206, they said.
The visitors interested in buying travel products and services from the Kingdom has risen 116 per cent to 1,168 compared with the same period last year witnessing strong online visitor interest months ahead of the event, from travel professionals in the Kingdom, said the event organisers.
“Saudi Arabia continues to focus on its tourism industry as it looks to diversify away from its dependence on oil, with revenues from tourism accounting for around 3.6 per cent of GDP,” said Mark Walsh, portfolio director, Reed Travel Exhibitions.
“The tourism authority has announced it aims to attract 88 million tourists by 2020 as the kingdom focuses on developing religious tourism and business travel in particular,” he added.
According to Walsh, religious tourism remains the main reason for overseas visitors to Saudi. 'More than half of inbound visitors travel to Makkah and Madinah, making it a major focus for major investment in hotels and leisure development.'
The Kingdom issued 9.5 million religious visas last year, up 11.3 per cent from 2010, according to the Ministry of Hajj website, with Umrah visas rising by one million in 2011 from 2010. Nearly two million foreign pilgrims arrived to perform Haj last year.
Saudi’s government is undertaking major infrastructure initiatives to provide better services to pilgrims including enhancement of the Holy Mosque in Makkah as well as expanding and upgrading King Abdulaziz International Airport, Jeddah, and Madinah Airport, as well as an aggressive marketing strategy.
Overall pre-event visitor registrations for the four-day Arabian Travel Market show, which opens on April 30 are already up 132 per cent from the same time last year, at nearly 2,000 visitors.
Exhibitors from the Kingdom include the Saudi Commission for Tourism & Antiquities, Al Hokair Group, Al Khazama Management Company and e-travelgate.-TradeArabia News Service