Arab News, Thursday, Jul 11, 2019 | Zul Qaadah 8, 1440
Saudi boom from pilgrims, leisure and business visitors
Saudi hotels are expected to benefit from an upswing in tourism, driven
by pilgrims as well as leisure and business visitors, according to bookings
Travelers from the US, UAE and UK topped the list for travel demand into the
Kingdom in 2018, the company said. The US saw more than 110 percent year-on-year
growth in demand compared to the same period in 2017 with almost 45 percent
share of total room nights, while UAE visitors grew 140 percent accounting for
almost a fifth of total room nights.
The data also revealed strong growth in package demand from travelers in India
and Spain, both growing 200 percent on a year earlier. “Major hotel groups are
driving construction trends across the country as they aim to meet the demands
of an ever-increasing number of domestic tourists and international visitors,”
said Paula de Keijzer, a regional senior director of market management at
Saudi Arabia plans to open up its tourism sector to international tourists as
part of its economic reform agenda, which also includes major investments in new
resorts along the Red Sea coastline such as the 30,000 square km NEOM mega
Real estate consultancy Colliers expects international arrivals to Saudi Arabia
to increase by about 5.6 percent annually from 17.7 million in 2018 to 23.3
million in 2023.The growth is expected to be driven by religious tourism, with
the aim of extending pilgrim visits. The Kingdom aims to attract 30 million
pilgrims by 2030, an increase of 11 million from the 19 million Hajj and Umrah
pilgrims in 2017.
Despite expectations for rising visitor numbers, hotels remain under short-term
pressure as new room supply awaits expected future demand.
More than 5,000 keys are forecast to be delivered to the market by 2022,
according to CBRE’s market snapshot as more international chains open
Among the most recent arrivals is China’s Oyo Hotels & Homes, which has struck
an initial agreement with the Kingdom’s Public Investment Fund to open 50 hotels
across seven cities.
It is also establishing two training schools in Riyadh and Jeddah to train Saudi
graduates in hotel management.