Citizens to spend SR40bn in tourist trips abroad

Citizens to spend SR40bn in tourist trips abroad
Updated 18 August 2013

Citizens to spend SR40bn in tourist trips abroad

Citizens to spend SR40bn in tourist trips abroad

Saudis traveling abroad this summer are expected to spend a whopping SR40 billion, and Dubai remains the favorite tourist destination among Arab countries for them.
The number of Saudi tourists visiting foreign countries roughly stands at 12 million and their collective spending is expected to be in the region of SR40 billion, said Abdulmuhsin Al-Hukair, a tourism investor.
“This big amount should have been spent within the country,” he said, stressing on the importance of making the Kingdom an attractive tourist destination to ensure that the Saudis stay and spend their money in their own country.
He said all the neighboring countries in the Gulf region normally prepare themselves every year to receive Saudi tourists, except the Kingdom, which remains an exporter of tourists and not an importer though it enjoys different climates and long sea shores in the Red Sea and the Arabian Gulf.
“It is not a matter of cost since the Kingdom is considered the least expensive country in the region when it comes to tourism,” he said. “The problem is that official bodies have neither taken the issue seriously nor are they treating tourism on equal footing with other sectors such as industry or agriculture.”
Dubai is the first choice for Saudi tourists during the summer break and Cairo could have become the second most favored destination but for the political developments there, he said, adding that about 50 percent of Dubai-bound Saudi tourists have their own houses there.
Mihaidib Al-Mihaidib, director general of Sarh Tourism and Travel Company, said Saudi tourists favor Dubai followed by European countries and United States besides Malaysia. Saudis going abroad for vacation increased by 30 percent during the Eid holidays, he said.
Dubai boasts of several attractive services not available in other Gulf countries such as luxurious apartments, shopping malls and entertainment cities. Room tariffs in Dubai hotels have also gone up compared to prices prevailing in European and East Asian countries due to the increasing demand for Dubai as a tourist destination, he said.
He said Sharm El-Sheikh in Egypt still attracts many Saudi tourists due to the relatively low-priced hotels compared to Dubai while the number of Saudi tourists heading to Cairo and Beirut dropped by 90 percent due to political or security considerations.
Saudi Arabia is the biggest tourism exporting country in the world, be it in terms of tourist numbers or the volume of spending. A Saudi tourist normally spends three times that his European counterpart would in European countries, where spending ranges between $10,000 and $100,000, he said.
Earlier estimates said some 1.6 million Saudi tourists were expected to visit the UAE by the end of summer, accounting for 80 percent of the total number of Gulf tourists to that country.
Saudis were reportedly ranked first in terms of visitors to Dubai in 2012, with the number of guests at hotels increasing by more than 29 percent. More than 1.1 million Saudi guests stayed in Dubai hotels in 2012, compared to 873,152 in 2011.