Saudi tourism’s $3.5 billion summer
Domestic tourism looking healthy, according to new report.
July 4, 2010 1:59 by Samuel Potter
Saudis and expatriates are expected to spend SR13.2 billion ($3.5 billion) on domestic tourism over this summer (from July to September), according to a report issued by the Information & Research Center of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA).
“Tourists are expected to spend 79.5 million nights during the peak tourism season against 75 million nights last year,” the report said, showing a six percent growth. It also predicted that each tourist would spend an average of SR169 each night.
Makkah province is expected to draw the largest number (47 percent) of domestic tourism flights, followed by the Eastern Province at 13 percent, Asir at 12 percent, Riyadh at 11 percent, and Madinah and Hail provinces at five percent each, the report said.
About 51 percent of domestic tourists will use their trips to enjoy their holidays and shopping while 25 percent on visiting friends and relatives and 23 percent on religious rites, the report pointed out.
Abdullah Al-Johani, vice chairman of SCTA for marketing and media, gave two reasons for increase in domestic tourism flights this summer.
“First, there is a growing awareness among Saudis on the importance of domestic tourism. Secondly, there are a lot of tourist attractions in the Kingdom,” he explained.
Madain Saleh, located northwest of Madinah, is one of the major tourist attractions. A pre-Islamic archaeological site, Madain Saleh is one of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites. It attracts thousands of tourists from within the Kingdom and abroad every year. It consists of nearly 130 graves and accommodations once inhabited by the Nabateans 2,000 years ago.
Nineteen premier tourist festivals have been planned in major Saudi cities this summer, which coincides with Ramadan and Eid Al-Fitr.
The SCTA has been holding marketing, media and advertising campaigns to promote domestic tourism and encourage Saudis and expatriates to spend their holidays at the Kingdom’s resorts.
In a previous statement, Salah Al-Bakhit, another deputy chairman of the SCTA gave a rosy picture of Saudi tourism industry. “By the year 2015 its revenue would reach SR118 billion and by 2020 it would jump further to SR232 billion,” he said.
The SCTA expects a tourism revenue of SR66 billion this year. Restaurants and coffee shops are expected to earn a revenue of SR36 billion in 2010, up 9 percent compared to last year.