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In a momentous achievement, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has welcomed over 100 million tourists, surpassing expectations and garnering global recognition. This milestone, celebrated by the World Tourism Organization (UN Tourism), is a testament to the Kingdom’s strategic vision and robust sector growth, Wego reports.

Achieving this feat seven years ahead of schedule not only positions Saudi Arabia as a global tourism powerhouse but also emphasizes its key role in the economic diversification and sustainable development of the tourism sector worldwide.

© Ministry of Tourism

 

The Kingdom saw a substantial increase in inbound tourists, with international arrivals reaching 27.4 million, reflecting a remarkable 65% surge compared to 2022. The domestic tourism sector also witnessed growth, with 79.3 million domestic tourists, marking a 2% increase from the previous year. A combined total spend of over USD 67 billion further underlines the economic impact of this achievement.

Strategies elevating Saudi tourism

Saudi Arabia’s success story is built on a foundation of strategic initiatives and reforms that have catapulted its tourism sector. The year 2023 witnessed a staggering 390% increase in demand for tourism activity licenses, reflecting the country’s commitment to fostering a vibrant and diverse tourism landscape. The tourism sector’s direct contribution to the GDP is estimated to exceed 4%, showcasing resilience, innovation, and a dedication to excellence.

The Kingdom’s vision for the future is clear, with the tourism sector contributing significantly to the non-oil GVA, which is estimated to exceed 7%. This accomplishment underscores Saudi Arabia’s determination to reduce its dependence on traditional revenue sources and diversify its economy.

Despite global challenges, Saudi Arabia’s tourism sector has shown remarkable resilience, with inbound spending surpassing USD 37 billion in 2023. The significant increase in hotel keys across the kingdom further illustrates the sector’s robust growth. These achievements stand as a testament to Saudi Arabia’s commitment to creating a prosperous and sustainable tourism sector that can weather challenges and contribute to the country’s economic development.

Saudi Arabia leads G20 in tourist growth rate

UN Tourism’s close collaboration with Saudi Arabia has not gone unnoticed. The inauguration of UN Tourism’s Regional Office for the Middle East in Riyadh in 2021 has been pivotal in fostering tourism innovation, education, and rural development. Saudi Arabia has distinguished itself on the global stage by leading the G20 in the international tourist growth rate in 2023 compared to 2019, showcasing its pivotal role in the global tourism sector’s recovery post-pandemic.

Boosting Saudi tourism through workforce empowerment

The employment opportunities created by the tourism sector play a vital role in Saudi Arabia’s success. With 925.5 thousand jobs in the tourism sector as of 2023 and substantial investments in training, the Kingdom is on track to make tourism the second-largest employer by 2030. This focus on workforce development ensures that the benefits of tourism growth are shared widely and sustainably, contributing to the overall prosperity of the nation.

Saudi Arabia’s achievement of welcoming over 100 million tourists in 2023 is a beacon of collaboration, innovation, and a clear vision for the future. As the Kingdom continues to drive towards its goal of 150 million tourists by 2030, it sets an example for a more resilient, sustainable, and inclusive future for the global tourism industry. UN Tourism extends its congratulations and looks forward to supporting Saudi Arabia’s journey in promoting a brighter future for global tourism.