Saudi tourism to generate $17.5 billion this year
Tourism expected to boost the Kingdom’s economy, creating employment and investment opportunities for small and medium businesses.
June 14, 2010 10:46 by Rasha Reslan
Saudi Arabia’s tourism industry is expected to make a revenue of SR66 billion this year, said Salah Al-Bakhit, deputy chairman of Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA).
“This figure is 4.76 percent more than the revenue earned in 2009,” Al-Bakhit said in a statement that was carried by the Saudi Press Agency on Sunday.
He was optimistic about the future of the country’s tourism industry. “By the year 2015 its revenue would reach SR118 billion and by 2020 it would jump further to SR232 billion,” he said.
Making a presentation on “Creating a tourism investment climate in the Kingdom,” Al-Bakhit said the revenue of transport sector would increase by eight percent in 2010 to reach SR30 billion.
Restaurants and coffee shops are expected to earn a revenue of SR36 billion in 2010, up 9 percent compared to last year.
The number of jobs in the tourism sector rose from 333,125 in 2000 to 457,658 in 2009, registering an annual growth rate of 7.4 percent.
“The number of Saudis working in the field rose by 60 percent from 66,704 to 117,384 during the same period,” the official said.
He disclosed SCTA’s plan to establish a holding company for tourism development in order to carry out tourism projects in various parts of the country in association with private and public sectors.
“We also intend to provide public land on long lease to attract investment. The old Okaz Souq in Taif will be floated for private investment in order to develop the area for cultural tourism,” he explained.
Al-Bakhit is hopeful that investment in the Kingdom’s tourism sector would grow as a result of the country’s increasing tourism prospects, its economic strength and growing population.
He said tourism would strengthen the Kingdom’s economy, diversify its revenue, create more jobs for its citizens and provide investment opportunities for small and medium enterprises.