DUBAI: Inbound tourism spending in Saudi Arabia is expected to reach $25.3 billion by 2025, recovering from the impact of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, according to new estimates by market research firm
“World inbound tourism spending collapsed by 57 percent in 2020, and our forecast expects it to rebound by 82 percent in 2021,” Caroline Bremner, head of travel and tourism research at Euromonitor International, said in a press statement.
“In our most pessimistic scenario, spending growth is predicted to rise by 40 percent in 2021, leading to a more prolonged recovery timeline, returning to pre-crisis levels by 2024,” said Bremner.
Saudi domestic tourism exceeded expectations during the pandemic, despite the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) describing 2020 as “the worst year on record in the history of tourism.”
Figures from the UNWTO in December revealed that destinations welcomed 900 million fewer international tourists between January and October, compared with the same period in 2019 — a 72 percent year-on-year slump.
Despite the dire international picture, the Saudi Ministry of Tourism announced in September that domestic tourism saw a significant rise in traveler numbers, surpassing official projections.
During the 2021 Budget Forum in December, Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Tourism Ahmed Al-Khateeb said the Kingdom is aiming to attract new tourism investments worth SR220 billion ($58 billion) by 2023, and more than SR500 billion by the end of the decade. In 2019, Saudi travelers spent $22 billion traveling overseas. One of the ways the ministry is aiming to boost the Kingdom’s tourism revenues is to encourage Saudis to spend some of their tourism cash at home.
“We have reduced the leakage,” Al-Khateeb told Arab News in December. “In 2019, we launched 11 ‘seasons’ in Saudi Arabia and reduced travel outside by 30 percent. If we continue to do this, we will definitely reduce the leakage — Saudis will like to stay at home and they will enjoy the offering.”