RIYADH: Saudi Arabia is offering investment opportunities worth $6 trillion in the travel and tourism sector through to 2030, as the Kingdom steadily pursues its journey to emerge as a global tourist destination by the end of this decade, according to the Saudi Minister of Tourism, Ahmed Al-Khateeb.
Speaking at the World Travel and Tourism Council Global Summit in Riyadh on Nov. 29, Al-Khateeb said that collective action globally is required to combat the challenges in the tourism sector.
“We built our tourism industry against the backdrop of a global disaster (COVID-19 pandemic). And we now have $6 trillion of investment opportunities through 2030,” said Al-Khateeb.
He added: “We value collaboration, we have proved that it will work. Our shared commitment to partnerships will drive the global industry forward. Saudi Arabia is reimagining tourism, making use of the power of partnership and ensuring that no one is left behind.”
Al-Khateeb noted that he is proud of Saudi Arabia’s achievements, both as a rapidly developing destination and as a global partner driving change across the travel and tourism sector.
“As the travel and tourism sector recovers stronger, we must put people and the planet first, at the very center of every decision we take,” he said.
The minister further noted that the travel and tourism industry will create 126 million new jobs in the next decade globally, which means one in every three new jobs created will be from the tourism sector.
Reaffirming Saudi Arabia’s commitment toward the industry and the young population in the nation, Al-Khateeb pointed out that the Kingdom is training 100,000 people annually to work in the tourism sector.
Arnold Donald, chairman of WTTC, said that Saudi Arabia is evolving rapidly as a tourist destination.
“This is my third visit to Saudi Arabia within the last 14 months, and each visit has been very impressive when compared to my previous visit. Saudi Arabia’s bold ambitions embody the region’s drive and energy in the travel and tourism sector,” said Donald.
He added: “This is a Kingdom that aspires to become one of the top 5 tourist destinations in the world, welcoming 100 million domestic and international travelers a year.”
Donald said the public and private sectors are working together in pursuit of a common goal in Saudi Arabia, which is an example to the entire world.
“Partnership across the public and private sectors should come first to push forward the action that will benefit all,” added Donald.
For her part, Julia Simpson, president and CEO of WTTC said that investments worth $800 billion are happening in the travel and tourism sector of Saudi Arabia now, and that is the biggest ever in the history of the industry.
She also added that the travel and tourism sector will witness tremendous growth over the next decade.
“Travel and tourism sector will outpace global growth over the next decade. We will be growing at a rate of 5.8 percent annually, but globally GDP will grow 2.8 percent,” said Simpson.
During her speech, Simpson also announced the launch of the world’s first environmental and social impact report for travel and tourism, describing it as a “groundbreaking piece of research that allows us to measure and track the sector's footprint.”
She also highlighted the necessity to embrace sustainable aviation fuel to reduce emissions in the transport sector.
“In 2019, transport accounted for 38 percent of emissions. It is critical to ensure wide scale availability of sustainable aviation fuel,” added Simpson.