The World Travel & Tourism Council’s (WTTC) 2024 Economic Impact Research (EIR) has revealed a record-breaking year for Travel & Tourism in Saudi Arabia, with new highs in GDP contribution, industry jobs, and tourist spending.

Saudi Arabia’s Travel & Tourism sector is presently breaking all prior records, demonstrating the country’s determination to become a global tourism hot spot.

Last year, the sector expanded by more than 32%, contributing a record-breaking SAR 444.3BN to Saudi GDP, or 11.5% of the whole economy. This surpassed the previous record by about 30%, highlighting the sector’s critical new role in the national economic framework.

Jobs supported by the industry increased by 436,000 to more over 2.5 million, accounting for nearly one out of every five jobs in the country.

Although the jobs lost during the pandemic were entirely regained by 2022, today’s announcement shows that sector employment in Travel & Tourism has expanded by over 24% since its prior peak.

International visitor expenditure increased by over 57% to SAR 227.4BN, surpassing the previous record of SAR 93.6BN, while domestic visitor spending increased by 21.5% to SAR 142.5 billion.

Saudi Arabia welcomed 100 million tourists in 2023, seven years earlier than planned. Today, the country is leaping to even higher heights, with a more ambitious goal of attracting 150 million tourists by 2030.

Julia Simpson, President & CEO of WTTC, stated, “Saudi Arabia’s Travel & Tourism sector’s extraordinary achievements last year mark a watershed moment in its journey to become a global tourism leader.”

“This success is a direct result of the Kingdom’s visionary commitment to the sector, showcasing an impressive fusion of cultural heritage and innovative tourism initiatives. As the sector continues to expand, it promises to play a crucial role in the nation’s diversified economic future, while contributing significantly to global Travel & Tourism development.”

His Excellency Ahmed Al-Khateeb, Minister of Tourism in Saudi Arabia and Chairman of the Executive Council of UN Tourism, stated,  “The latest data from WTTC provides further evidence of the rapid success we have achieved in transforming Saudi Arabia’s tourism industry.”

“Tourism is a key pillar of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 economic diversification plans and we have made great strides promoting investment in the sector – with more than $800 billion earmarked by 2030 – as well as creating new jobs and growing the contribution of tourism to GDP.”

How Does This Year Look Like?

Travel and tourism are expected to continue rising at a rapid pace in 2024, with a GDP contribution of SAR 498 billion and a job rise of more than 158,000 to nearly 2.7 million.

International visitor expenditure is expected to exceed SAR 256BN, nearly doubling the previous record point, while domestic visitor spending is expected to reach SAR 155.2BN.

What Will the Next Decade Look Like?

The worldwide tourism organization predicts that the sector would increase its annual GDP contribution to a staggering SAR 836.1BN by 2034, accounting for about 16% of the Saudi Arabian economy, and will employ more than 3.6 million people across the kingdom, with one in every five individuals employed in the sector.

What does the region look like?

In 2023, the Middle Eastern Travel & Tourism sector grew by more than 25%, reaching about $460 billion. Jobs reached over 7.75 million, while international spending increased by 50% to $179.8 billion. Domestic tourist expenditure increased by 16.5% to more than $205 billion.

WTTC predicts that the Middle Eastern Travel & Tourism sector will continue to develop through 2024, with a GDP contribution of $507 billion. Jobs are predicted to total 8.3 million, with international tourist expenditure reaching $198 billion and domestic visitor spending exceeding $224 billion.

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