Tourism to Contribute $31 Billion to Saudi Arabia’s GDP By 2020

With a nominal GDP of $684bn in 2017, Saudi Arabia’s economy is more than three times the size of the median for A-rated countries, says Moody’s.

May 8, 2018 (BE2C2) — The Saudi tourism sector is expected to contribute $31.47 billion (SR118 billion) to the GDP by 2020, said Hamad Al-Ismail, vice president for Investment and Tourism Development at the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage.

Al-Ismail was addressing panelists and attendees at a session titled “Public Investment Fund and Tourism” at a two-day Makkah Region Economic Forum this week in Jeddah– Kingdom’s commercial capital.

About 60 speakers and panelists, most of them local and regional business leaders and experts, participated to discuss and review successful international experiences and propose innovative solutions to boost tourism– the Kingdom aims to increase its GDP at the same time grow its non-oil sector.

With a nominal GDP of $684bn in 2017, Saudi Arabia’s economy is more than three times the size of the median for A-rated countries, says Moody’s.

The Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH) initiative to make Saudi Arabia the preferred destination for Muslim tourists from all around the world seeks to maximize its tourism potentials considered one of the largest in the region.

According to SCTH spokesman Saud Al-Mogbil, all the initiatives of the National Transformation Program 2020 demand a model of private/public sector partnership (PPP).

“SCTH is building a productive PPP initiative that will transform the national tourism sector and contribute significantly to Saudi Vision 2030,” he told Arab News.

He added that the SCTH is linking up with key partners such as the ministries of interior, foreign affairs, Hajj and Umrah and the Saudi Arabian Airlines.

Al-Ismail said they have put further the National Tourism Strategy to boost this sector and encourage investment, adding that they have pushed forward the private sector to lead the development in this sector. For this, SR2.7 billion have been allocated to provide loans for investors in the hotel sector and the commission has now considered providing the loans to other tourism investments, with the loan offered for an investor reaching SR100 million.

He noted that the number of hotel rooms will jump from 5000 to 620,000 rooms in 2020, while the tourism sector will be able to provide 1.2 million jobs in the coming years.

Makkah, Al-Ismail further said, has great investment opportunities and highlighted that opportunities available especially in the hotel sector to meet the increasing demand as the number of visitors and pilgrims are expected to hit 30 million a year.

He pointed out that they are studying issuing tourism visas in which holders can perform Umrah. This step he said, will boost the tourism industry in the Kingdom.

He added that they are also encouraging investing in catering, travel services, conference tourism, and entertainment tourism.

Al-Ismail said they have organized 90 visits to different countries accompanied by representatives from public and private sectors to learn from others and implement what is suitable in the Kingdom. Meanwhile, he said, they are working with 30 archaeology teams which will offer more tourism opportunities in the future.

So far, the kingdom, he said has registered four locations in the world heritage — a step that will allow the world to explore different Saudi culture and heritage.

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