There has been so much happening in Saudi Arabia surrounding it’s new tourism sector, from allowing visitors from 49 countries to holiday in the kingdom to instant electronic visas for international visitors looking to attend a festival.
The President and Chief Executive of the World Travel and Tourism Council, Gloria Guevara, stated recently that tourism within the country will account for 5% of KSA’s GDP by as soon as 2021. Revealing that Saudi Arabia’s latest progressive reforms are working, she also said, "We will see an interesting growth based on changes they made on visas ... and millions of new jobs will be created.”
The wheels have been in motion for Vision 2030 for some time now, and one of the main objective of the plan is to increase revenues within the tourism sector by up to 18% over the next decade or so. The kingdom is expected to host over 1.5 million tourists by 2020.
It has already been established that a large percentage of tourists in Saudi Arabia come for religious purposes, but the country is now putting a major effort into encouraging and growing its leisure tourism sector and this has been evident as the kingdom has played host to a number of sporting events, festivals and concerts, at which international tourists have been welcome. Last December, Saudi Arabia offered up electronic visas for international visitors visiting the Formula E motoring event and allowed in 1000 tourists from 80 different countries, and it was the same for people flying into the kingdom for Jeddah Season Festival this summer.
Since welcoming tourists, it has been reported that travelers are looking at the kingdom as a holiday destination and that the hotels in Jeddah saw a major increase in their occupancy rate in comparison to previous years. Not only are there exciting events taking place to attract tourism, but Saudi Arabia is looking to make the kingdom a desirable holiday destination; currently, the Red Sea coast is being transformed into a sustainable, yet luxury beach resort that is set to have its own laws. The first phase of this project is expected to be complete by the end of 2022 with luxury hotels and residential units and sea, land and air transport hubs.