Riyadh : Saudi Arabia is spending half-a-trillion dollars on coastal resorts and an entertainment complex to try and attract more tourists. It's part of the crown prince's plan to diversify the country's economy away from oil.
UNWTO loves their new member Saudi Arabia. It supported UNWTO with USD1.7 million in funding. Tourism to Saudi Arabia is big business, $9.6 billion big just in July and August this year, what included Hajj.
According to the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage, 3.2 million tourists arrived in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia this summer, compared to 3 million last year. Visitors spent 9 per cent more or a total of USD8.8 billion.
Saudi Arabia, the Gulf's largest economy, will open doors to international tourists by the end of the year. The Kingdom, which is home to Islam's holiest sites, is developing tourism as a viable sector as part of its Vision 2030 strategy to diversify revenues away from oil.
Tourism expenditure by the Saudi government has also kept pace with the changing strategy, reaching USD9bn in 2019 so far, compared with USD8.3bn in 2018.
Domestic tourist numbers are growing, as Saudi Arabia opens up to concerts by foreign artists, making it more attractive for Saudis to spend their weekends and holidays within the kingdom.
In July, Saudi Arabia hosted US singers Janet Jackson, 50 Cent and Chris Brown as well as British artist Liam Payne, who performed at a concert in the western Red Sea city of Jeddah. Special tourism visas were han-ded to concertgoers to attend the event.
The number of tourists from outside Saudi Arabia, meanwhile, decreased by 5.2 per cent from January until August compared with the same period last year.
The Saudi push for higher tourist numbers is opening up the country's visa rules for tourism. The kingdom said last week it would allow international tourists to enter the country by the end of the year. In the past, the kingdom did not issue individual visas for tourists.