RIYADH: More than $1 trillion worth of real estate and infrastructure projects, including 315,000 hotel rooms, are under development or in the pipeline in Saudi Arabia, according to industry experts speaking ahead of the upcoming Future Hospitality Summit Saudi Arabia to be held in Riyadh from May 7 to 9.
The number of hotel keys is likely to almost double to around 200,000 in the next four to five years, with at least 50 percent of the proposed supply becoming operational by 2028, with some existing properties exiting from the market to make way for new hotels and resorts.
Turab Saleem, head of tourism and hospitality at Knight Frank, said: “The Saudi government’s strategy includes attracting 100 million visitors by 2030, and that means creating and delivering first-class gateways and developments, such as the $500 billion NEOM. The $1 trillion projects already underway represent just one-third of the total spending plan, reinforcing the country’s aggressive plan to deliver world-class infrastructure, hospitality, tourism and residential facilities to meet the targets set out in Vision 2030.”
“The outlook for hospitality investment in the Kingdom looks promising, with hotel and tourism development not only focused on the major cities of Riyadh and Jeddah, but spreading quickly to other parts of the country, too. Our analysis shows that the delivery of all planned hotel rooms — which cover the luxury, mid-market and serviced apartment sectors — will cost around $110 billion.”
Echoing similar views, HVS, a leading global consultancy focusing on the hospitality sector, said the government continues to make significant strides in facilitating the growth of different sectors across the country, with notable investments in the hospitality and tourism space.
Hala Matar Choufany, president – Middle East, Africa and South Asia at HVS, said: “The surge in tourism and arrivals into KSA over the last 18 months alone — largely the result of legislation changes and visa facilitation — is a testament to the country’s growing allure. Interestingly, this uptick is not confined to established destinations and sectors such as commercial and religious tourism. ‘Bleisure’ and leisure tourism are equally on the rise, with secondary cities welcoming new visitors from far and wide. As the country continues to diversify its offering, the outlook looks positive, and, while it is early days in terms of planning and future investment, the hospitality market and investment opportunities are significant.”
Knight Frank’s data research on the Kingdom’s hotels outside of the giga-projects shows that there are currently 129,000 hotel and serviced apartment keys in the country. By 2030, that figure will have grown by more than 60 percent to 212,000 keys in 5-star, 4-star, 3-star and under, and serviced apartment sectors, with 4-star properties accounting for almost half of the total development cost of $21.3 billion. Meanwhile, the Kingdom’s giga-projects represent nearly 73 percent of the hotel supply pipeline, with a 62 percent surge in the number of 4- and 5-star hotel rooms by the end of the decade.
And Saudi Arabia’s tourism expansion is not limited to land-based destinations and attractions. The cruise industry, which is set to create up to 50,000 jobs in the country, is expected to bring in 1.5 million visitors annually within the next five years, according to the Public Investment Fund.
Turab Saleem said: “The herculean, $110 billion task of transforming Saudi Arabia’s hospitality landscape goes well beyond the delivery of extra hotel room keys, and care and attention must be taken to launch the correct quantum of product in the right locations.”
HVS anticipates that franchises and lease agreements are set to become a new trend in the Saudi hospitality market.