Saudi tourism outstrips overall economic growth in Kingdom

A tourist listens to a Saudi guide at the Mada’in Saleh archaeological site. The travel sector grew four times faster than the wider economy last year. (AP)
Updated 23 March 2018
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Saudi tourism outstrips overall economic growth in Kingdom

LONDON: The KSA travel and tourism sector grew four times faster than the wider economy in 2017, according to a report released by the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), on Thursday.
The total contribution of travel and tourism to GDP was SR240.9 billion ($64.2 billion), or 9.4 percent of GDP in 2017.
It is forecast to jump again this year, underscoring the sector’s increasingly important role in the country’s economic evolution, the WTTC said.
With government investment fueling rapid growth in the sector, the tourism economy is projected to grow to almost SR400 billion ($107 billion) over the next ten years.
“Tourism is really being put up as a pillar in the future Saudi economy,” said WTTC Research Director Rochelle Turner.
“It’s very interesting to see the many developments there at the moment, from the building of infrastructure … to some of the changes in the structure and regulations that have taken place.”
The Kingdom has been courting overseas investment as part of a strategy to bolster the contribution of tourism to a diversified national economy under the country’s Vision 2030 blueprint for economic and social transformation.
Recently, the government-owned Public Investment Fund (PIF) pumped SR10 billion into an entertainment investment company to develop the country’s leisure infrastructure and create an estimated 22,000 jobs by 2030.
Last year the travel sector accounted for 644,000 jobs in the Kingdom, amounting to 5.3 percent of total employment.
At present it is predicted to drop by 1 percent in 2018 before rising by 1.6 percent per annum to 2028. Turner attributed this drop to the “increase in the number of jobs available” as the country shifts from an oil economy to a more diversified future.


China denies setting target to cut US trade surplus

Updated 1 min 57 sec ago
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China denies setting target to cut US trade surplus

BEIJING: China said Thursday it has not set a target to cut its trade surplus with the US but will seek to increase imports after the two sides stepped back from a potential trade war.
Officials from Beijing were reported to have offered to slash the country’s huge surplus by $200 billion during high-level talks last week — meeting a key Washington demand — by ramping up imports from the US.
That was followed on Monday by President Donald Trump tweeting that China will buy “massive amounts” of additional American agriculture products.
But commerce ministry spokesman Gao Feng denied that any figure was set during negotiations in Washington, which ended with the two countries agreeing to back off imposing tit-for-tat tariffs, though few details were revealed.
“China did not make any commitment on the specific amount of reduction of trade surplus with the US,” Gao told a regular news briefing.
“China will actively encourage companies to increase imports of US commodities and services according to market principles” and its own economic and consumption needs, Gao said.
“The two sides are willing to further strengthen cooperation in fields including agricultural products, energy, medical treatment, high-tech industry and finance.”
Both sides have extended olive branches since the weekend, with China announcing on Tuesday that it will cut auto import tariffs from July 1.
And Trump said his administration could impose a new fine of as much as $1.3 billion on embattled Chinese telecom company ZTE to replace crippling sanctions imposed last month that threatened to put the firm out of business.
However, there are concerns about Sunday’s agreement after Trump said he was “not satisfied” with it.