DUBAI: Saudi Arabia’s travel and tourism sector is expected to contribute $70.9 billion to the Kingdom’s GDP in 2019, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council.
International arrivals to the Kingdom are also expected to increase 5.6 percent per year from 17.7 million in 2018 to 23.3 million by 2023, according to research by Colliers in partnership with the Arabian Travel Market (ATM), which opened at the Dubai World Trade Center on Sunday.
Religious tourism will continue to be the biggest contributor to these numbers over the next decade, according to the research, with a goal of 30 million pilgrims to the Kingdom by 2030, an increase of 11 million from the 19 million Hajj and Umrah pilgrims that visited the country in 2017.
“More relaxed access to visas and the growth of the Umrah market are expected to be key drivers in the growth of international tourism in the Kingdom,” Danielle Curtis, Middle East exhibition director at the ATM, said in a statement.
But leisure tourism is also gaining traction in Saudi Arabia, with various projects and initiatives under the Vision 2030 reform plan already in progress.
“Saudi Arabia will see a vast expansion of its hotel and resort inventory during 2019, with over 9,000 keys of three, four and five-star international supply expected to enter the market,” Curtis said.
This will drive up competition in the country’s hotel scene, with projected growth in domestic and international visitors set to boost occupancy levels throughout 2019, according to Curtis.
A significant number of local tourist trips also adds to the upbeat forecast for the country’s tourism sector, with the number of domestic tourists exceeding 47 million in 2018, which Colliers said will increase to 70.5 million by 2023.