With Vision 2030 plans in full swing, Saudi Arabia has been highlighting all of the reasons why it’s a tourist friendly destination. It has been projected that the kingdom is set to bring in around $70 billion USD through its tourism sector in 2019 alone.
With a 5.6% increase in international visitors per year, Arab News reported that by 2023, Saudi will see 23.3 million visitors, with religious tourism being a major factor. In 2017, statistics showed that 19 million people flocked to the kingdom for both hajj and Umrah – by 2030, Saudi Arabia is set to see 30 million pilgrims.
As reported Arab News, Exhibition Director at The Arabian Travel Market, Danielle Curtis, stated, "More relaxed access to visas and the growth of the Umrah market are expected to be key drivers in the growth of international tourism in the kingdom.
Not only will Saudi Arabia attract more religious tourism, but will also be hosting holiday makers following an announcement made in 2017 that there are plans to develop the kingdom’s Red Sea coastline into a luxury resort – with its own “independent laws”.
This particular project aims to attract international visitors looking for a beach holiday with stunning beaches and luxurious hotels. The construction of the monumental project started earlier this year, with the first phase of it set to be complete by the end of 2022, and will consist of luxury hotels and residential units along with air, land and sea transport amenities.
With the country expected to host millions of visitors, there are also plans to increase hotels and accommodation across the kingdom, including the Hyatt group who plan to double the number of their hotels in Saudi Arabia and aim to open 5 new hotels by 2023.
Saudi’s Vision 2030 plan is in place to reduce the country’s reliance on oil, and leisure and tourism sectors are being boosted as they will increase economic growth. In 2018, the government announced that electronic visas would be issued for foreign visitors who want to visit the kingdom to attend concerts, sporting or cultural events. December 2018 also saw 1000 tourists from over 80 countries visit Saudi Arabia for its first ever Formula E event in Al Ahsa as it was proclaimed 2019’s “Capital of Arab Tourism”.