The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) says that travel & tourism sector in Saudi Arabia is expected to grow at an average of 11 pc annually over the next decade, making it the fastest growing travel & tourism economy in the Middle East.
According to the forecast by WTTC’s latest Economic Impact Report (EIR), this annual growth, more than six times the 1.8 pc growth rate of the country’s overall economy, will bolster the economic recovery of the Kingdom.
By 2032, the travel & tourism sector’s contribution to GDP could reach nearly SAR 635 billion, representing 17.1 pc of the total economy.
The forecast also reveals travel & tourism employment could double over the next 10 years, creating more than 1.4 million jobs, to reach almost three million employed within the sector by 2032.
The projections for both employment and the sector’s contribution to the Kingdom’s economy, surpass the ambitious goals set out by the government’s Vision 2030 strategic framework. By 2023, Saudi Arabia’s travel & tourism sector’s contribution to the national economy could surpass pre-pandemic levels, projected to rise to nearly SAR 297 billion, 2 pc more than in 2019.
Employment in the sector could also exceed 2019 levels by 14.1 pc, creating more than 223,000 additional jobs, representing nearly more than 1.8 million by the end of next year.
By the end of this year, the sector’s contribution to GDP is expected to grow 15.2 pc to nearly SAR 223 billion, amounting to 7.2 pc of the total economic GDP, while employment in the sector is set to grow by 16.1 pc to reach more than 1.5 million jobs.
According to the global tourism body, the Kingdom, due to host WTTC’s 22nd Global Summit in Riyadh from November 28- December 1, 2022, is witnessing a faster than average recovery following the government’s total commitment to the travel & tourism sector, ensuring it remained at the forefront of the global agenda.
“Throughout these difficult times for our sector, the Saudi Arabia government has recognised the importance of travel & tourism and has led the world in its recovery. Through his leadership, travel & tourism will become a driving force of the Saudi Arabian economy and will surpass the goals set out in its Vision 2030 blueprint,” says Julia Simpson, WTTC President & CEO.
“I would like to commend Ahmed Al Khateeb, who has shown strong leadership during this crisis which has boosted the sector’s growth with unprecedented investments and new approaches to tourism. I am delighted the Kingdom is hosting our 22nd Global Summit, where we will be able to continue our efforts of showcasing the importance of the Travel & Tourism sector and look ahead to the future of travel,” adds Simpson.
Before the pandemic, Saudi Arabia’s travel & tourism total contribution to GDP was 9.7 pc at SAR 291.6 billion in 2019, falling to just 6.6 pc at SAR 190.6 billion in 2020, representing a drop of 34.6 pc.
The sector also supported nearly 1.6 million jobs, before an almost complete halt to international travel which resulted in a loss of over 22 pc or 350,000 jobs, to fall to just over 1.2 million in 2020.