Saudi Tourism: Key Pillar of Vision 2030

As Saudi Arabia celebrates the 8th anniversary of launching its ambitious transformative agenda, Vision 2030, on April 25, its tourism sector boasts great accomplishments, becoming a key driver of economic growth and diversification.

Vision 2030 is based on three main pillar to achieve the Kingdom’s strategic objectives: A Vibrant Society, A Thriving Economy, and An Ambitious Nation. Tourism lies at the heart of achieving most of this Vision’s objectives.

A Tourist Destination

Since the launch of vision 2030, Saudi Arabia has made great strides towards becoming an attractive tourist destination for people from around the world. In 2019, the Kingdom introduced the e-visa to draw millions of visitors to Saudi Arabia.

To strengthen its position as a global tourist destination and preserve its rich heritage and nature, the Kingdom is undertaking various initiatives in the areas of archaeology, culture, education, and the arts. It also organizes major events, such as the Red Sea International Film Festival and the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, which attract visitors and display the Kingdom’s warm hospitality.

Saudi Arabia, as a central location in the Arab and Islamic world, is improving its facilities and services to offer pilgrims a unique and unforgettable experience.

Saudi Tourism: A Key Pillar of Vision 2030
Tourist numbers in 2022

The Kingdom’s tourism policy is centered around the Ministry of Tourism, which is responsible for forging strategy and regulations, developing destinations, enhancing human capital, and attracting investments.

Its efforts are supported by the Saudi Tourism Authority (STA) which is in charge of branding and marketing, while the Tourism Development Fund is responsible for funding mega projects and supporting the private sector to develop offerings and accommodations.

National Tourism Strategy

The Saudi National Tourism Strategy’s objective is to leverage opportunities of Vision 2030. It aims to contribute to national economy diversification, attract investments, create job opportunities for citizens, and increase income resources. It has set targets to boost the tourism industry contribution to the objectives of Vision 2030.

Saudi Tourism: A Key Pillar of Vision 2030
Inbound tourism in 2022

It aims to attract 150 million visits; increase employment by creating 1.6 million jobs; grow and diversify the economy by increasing the private sector’s contribution, attracting direct foreign investment and supporting Saudi Arabia’s GDP by 10%. It also seeks to strengthen Islamic and national identity by facilitating hosting more than 37 million Hajj and Umrah tourists and enhance government effectiveness by unlocking the potential of the non-oil sector.

Impressive Accomplishment

Saudi Arabia’s target was to attract 100 million visitors by 2030. But the Kingdom has achieved a great accomplishment by reaching that target 7 years ahead of schedule, a remarkable milestone in its journey towards becoming a global tourism hub.

Saudi Tourism: A Key Pillar of Vision 2030
Tourist spending in 2022

Saudi Arabia has welcomed over 27 million international tourists and over 79 million domestic tourists with a combined total spending of more than $67bn. This impressive achievement underscores Saudi Arabia’s position as an emerging tourism powerhouse and emphasizes its leading role in the economic diversification and sustainable development of the tourism sector across the world.

According to the UN Tourism, the Kingdom saw a 390% increase in demand for tourism activity licenses in 2023 and the contribution of tourism to the non-oil GVA is estimated to surpass 7%. The tourism sector’s direct contribution to the GDP is projected to exceed 4%.

After this huge success, the National Tourism Strategy upgraded its target to attract 150 million visitors, create 1.6 million jobs and contribute 10% to the GDP.

Iconic Attractions

Encompassing a variety of attractions, from UNESCO World Heritage sites to natural landscapes, religious sites and luxury destinations, Saudi Arabia has launched various projects to develop its renowned tourist sites and transform them into global destinations.

One of the most prominent destinations is AlUla, known for its rich history, including the Nabataean city of Hegra, the ancient Kingdoms Dadanite and Lihyanite, and AlUla Old Town. AlUla, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, attracts 2 million annual visitors, contributes $31.9bn to the GDP.  It has created 38,000 jobs.

Saudi Tourism: A Key Pillar of Vision 2030

Another tourist attraction is Diriyah, home to the At-Turaif UNESCO World Heritage Site, the original home of House Al Saud. It combines traditional Najdi architecture with modern urbanism, aiming to attract over 100,000 residents by 2030. Diriyah development project, valued at $62.2bn, includes more than 10 iconic landmarks, over 38 hotels and resorts under construction, 9 museums, and over 20,000 residential units.

The Kingdom is also developing multiple projects along the Red Sea coast, such as AMAALA, and Desert Rock. Other projects include THE RIG, Sindalah, Jeddah Central Project, in addition to projects aiming to preserve the Kingdom’s mosques and enhancing the pilgrim experience, such as the Mohammed bin Salman Project for the Development of Historical Mosques, Makkah Route Initiative, and NUSUK.

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