Arab News, Thu, Sep 28, 2023 | Rabi Al-Awwal 13, 1445
Saudi tourism strategy bearing fruit as revenue hits $9.8bn in Q1 of 2023, says official
As the world emerges from the shadows of the COVID-19 pandemic, Saudi Arabia
is unveiling its true potential as a world-class tourist destination.
In just the first quarter of 2023, the Kingdom’s
tourism sector revenues more than tripled to a staggering SR37 billion ($9.8
billion), said Abdullah Al-Harbi, the assistant deputy minister for investment
enablement at the Tourism Ministry.
Speaking to Arab News on the sidelines of the
Future Hospitality Summit in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday, Al-Harbi said the Kingdom
will continue to “amaze the world” with strategic reforms focusing on
investment, innovation, and human development.
“The impressive numbers and growth have been
achieved even before most of the megaprojects and initiatives have come fully
live. So just imagine how much more we can achieve once they are fully
operational,” the top official said.
Al-Harbi said the impressive growth is a result of
the National Tourism Strategy that has set a clear path to boost the sector’s
contribution to the gross domestic product.
“We are happy with the progress so far and we will
continue to follow the same path to achieve more success and build one of the
most attractive tourism sectors in the world,” he added.
Setting its sights on attracting 100 million
tourists by 2030, the ministry acts as a regulator, orchestrator, and promoter
of investment into the sector, Al-Habri explained.
“As a regulator, we ensure that the right and
supportive regulatory environment exists for both visitors and investors alike
to make Saudi Arabia visitable, sustainable, and investable,” he added.
“As a result of all of this, we have begun seeing
an increase in investor interest and have already seen $5 billion of inward
investment so far and we aim to continue building on this momentum,” Al-Harbi
Saudi Arabia is prioritizing innovation in its
robust initiatives to bolster the tourism ecosystem.
“Innovation is a top priority, and our regulatory
by-laws are designed to drive game-changing thinking while the Tourism
Development Fund supports innovators and SMEs alike to nurture innovative
ideas,” Al-Harbi said.
The government aims to generate up to 1.6 million
jobs in the sector by 2030, which Al-Harbi described as a crucial part of the
national strategy.“The sector will require 1.6 million jobs and we have been and
will continue to train 100,000 tourism professionals annually in cooperation
with leading global institutions. We have also been working with the Ministry of
Education to integrate tourism education into the national curriculum,” he
To further strengthen collaboration between
ministries and stakeholders in the Kingdom, a special committee has been formed.
“The Tourism Development Council was created to
ensure full alignment and collaboration between all relevant stakeholders. In
addition, the ministry works closely with the regional development authorities
to align strategies and ensure proper and sustainable development of tourism
destinations from visitor experience, investor journey, and human capital
perspectives,” Al-Harbi stated.