One in 10 Saudi jobs will be in the tourism industry by the end of next year, according to the Kingdom’s minister for the sector.
Speaking at a forum in Riyadh to mark the unveiling of the 2022 budget, Ahmed Al-Khatib said SR500 million ($133 million) will be spent training male and female citizens in the tourism industry.
He revealed the government was preparing a road map to raise the readiness of nine tourist destinations and 42 targeted tourist sites.
Reflecting on the work of his ministry, Al-Khatib said: “We established the Tourism Development Fund, and this fund is very important to support the private sector.
“Its role is to give long-term loans at very low costs to the private sector to invest in tourism.
“In 2021 alone, the Fund financed 29 projects with a total investment of SR8 billion. These investments have commitments to create 17,000 jobs for Saudi men and women.”
Al-Khatib claimed Saudi Arabia is one of the 10 most powerful countries in domestic tourism.
The budget shows that Saudi Arabia is expecting a surplus next year for the first time since 2013.
Ministers are forecasting a surplus of SR90 billion, while total revenues for 2022 are estimated at SR1.05 trillion.
Spending is estimated to come in at SR955 billion — the lowest level since 2017.
In an interview to Al Arabiya, Al-Khatib said the ministry is looking forward to reaching 60 million tourists and creating 700,000 to 800,000 job by the end of 2022.
He said jobs in the tourism sector had risen from 680,000 by the end of 2020 to 700,000 at a time when the industry is registering a decline in jobs globally.
Although 2021 was a tough year for the sector due to the pandemic, there was comprehensive growth in numbers, including historical travel and domestic tourism, with 54 million tourist visits.
The minister said licensing new hotels now needs only 10 days, compared to 4 months in the past.