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World Travel & Tourism CouncilSaudi Arabia’s travel and tourism sector has set unprecedented records, as highlighted in the latest Economic Impact Research (EIR) by the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC). The report reveals that 2023 was a landmark year for the sector, achieving new heights in GDP contribution, job creation, and visitor spending.

Unprecedented Economic Growth

The sector experienced a remarkable 32% growth last year, contributing a staggering SAR 444.3 billion to Saudi Arabia’s GDP. This figure, representing 11.5% of the nation’s economy, surpasses the previous record by nearly 30%, underscoring the sector’s pivotal role in the economic landscape.

The number of jobs supported by the travel and tourism sector grew by 436,000, reaching over 2.5 million, which accounts for almost one in five jobs in the country. This growth signifies a full recovery from pandemic-related job losses in 2022 and an impressive 24% increase from the previous peak.

Surge in Visitor Spending

International visitor spending skyrocketed by 57% to SAR 227.4 billion, breaking the previous record of SAR 93.6 billion. Domestic visitor spending grew significantly, increasing by 21.5% to reach SAR 142.5 billion. These figures reflect Saudi Arabia’s successful efforts to attract and accommodate tourists worldwide.

Vision 2030: A Bold Ambition

Saudi Arabia’s tourism ambitions are aligned with Vision 2030, an economic diversification plan that aims to reduce the nation’s dependence on oil. The country has already achieved its target of welcoming 100 million tourists seven years ahead of schedule in 2023. Now, Saudi Arabia aims to attract 150 million tourists by 2030.

Leadership and Vision

Julia Simpson, WTTC President & CEO, praised the Kingdom’s achievements, stating, “Saudi Arabia’s Travel & Tourism sector’s extraordinary achievements last year mark a pivotal moment in its journey towards becoming 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.”

His Excellency Ahmed Al-Khateeb, Minister of Tourism of Saudi Arabia and Chairman of the Executive Council of UN Tourism echoed this sentiment, adding, “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.”

Future Projections

The future looks bright for Saudi Arabia’s travel and tourism sector. The WTTC forecasts continued growth in 2024, with GDP contributions expected to reach SAR 498 billion and job creation set to increase by 158,000, totalling nearly 2.7 million jobs. International visitor spending is projected to reach SAR 256 billion, while domestic visitor spending is forecast to hit SAR 155.2 billion.

Looking further ahead, by 2034, the sector is expected to contribute SAR 836.1 billion to the national economy, accounting for almost 16% of Saudi Arabia’s GDP, and employ over 3.6 million people, representing one in five jobs in the country.

Regional Impact

The Middle Eastern travel and tourism sector also witnessed significant growth in 2023, with a 25% increase reaching nearly $460 billion. Jobs in the region grew to 7.75 million, and international spending surged by 50% to $179.8 billion. Domestic visitor spending rose by 16.5% to over $205 billion. The WTTC projects that 2024 the region will see GDP contributions of $507 billion, with jobs increasing to 8.3 million. International visitor spending is expected to reach $198 billion, and domestic spending is forecast to surpass $224 billion.

For more information, please visit wttc.org.




Written by: Anne Keam