​International arrivals jump 156 pc above 2019 levels in Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia 2nd fastest growing destination in world: UNWTO
/ New Delhi
Saudi Arabian Tourism
​International arrivals jump 156 pc above 2019 levels in Saudi Arabia

The first three quarters of 2023 recorded an international visitor spending exceeding SAR 100 billion

International tourist arrivals in Saudi Arabia have grown significantly beyond the 2019 peak, says a report by UNWTO that also adds that the Kingdom is second fastest growing tourist destination in the world.
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Tourism in Saudi Arabia has not only recovered fully from the Covid-19 pandemic, but also grown 56 pc beyond that in international arrivals in 2023 compared to 2019, the pre-pandemic year. 

In a press statement, Saudi Arabian Tourism says that the recovery is highlighted in the United Nations World Tourism Organisation’s (UNWTO) Barometer report released earlier this week.

The statement adds that this achievement has not only contributed to the Kingdom’s economic growth but also positioned it as a key driver in the Middle East’s tourism recovery. The region, led by Saudi Arabia, is the only one to exceed pre-pandemic tourism levels, with a 22 pc growth in 2023 compared to 2019, adds the statement.

The statement goes on to state that globally, the tourism sector is steadily rebounding. By the end of 2023 the global average achieved 12 pc below pre-pandemic levels in international arrivals, with about 1.3 billion international arrivals. The sector’s international revenues neared USD 1.3 trillion, reaching 93 pc of the 2019 figure of USD 1.5 trillion. 

The direct contribution of tourism to the global GDP was estimated at 3 pc, or USD 3.3 trillion, in 2023, based on the UNWTO’s preliminary indicators.

Looking ahead, the UNWTO forecasts a complete recovery of global tourism from the COVID-19 pandemic by 2024, with an expected growth of 2 pc compared to 2019.

The tourism department adds that Saudi Arabia’s tourism sector stands out in the UNWTO reports, leading the G20 nations in the growth rate of international arrivals in 2023 and ranked second among the world’s fastest-growing tourist destinations for Q1-Q3 2023.

The statement adds that the Kingdom has seen remarkable growth in various tourist destinations, achieving a record in international visitor spending. The first three quarters of 2023 recorded an international visitor spending exceeding SAR 100 billion (USD 26.7 billion), according to the Saudi Central Bank (SAMA). The travel item of the balance of payments showed a surplus of approximately SAR 37.8 billion by the end of the third quarter of 2023, a 72 pc growth from the same period in 2022.

The tourism ministry says that these milestones underscore Saudi Arabia’s emergence as a unique and globally recognised tourist destination. The growing traveller confidence in the Kingdom’s diverse and appealing tourism offerings is evident.

The statement adds that in 2024, the Ministry of Tourism looks forward to sustaining its impressive growth, highlighting a variety of destinations, including AlUla, Diriyah, Yanbu, and Abha, among others. The year is set to feature prominent events like the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, Diriyah E-Prix, world-class boxing matches, Jeddah Season, Riyadh Season, and the Biennale. 

These destinations and events are part of Saudi Arabia’s strategic approach to enhance its global tourism appeal. The forthcoming year offers substantial opportunities for international investors in the tourism sector. In line with Saudi Vision 2030, the Ministry of Tourism is committed to the ongoing development of the sector, further strengthening its contribution to the national economy.

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