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In the ever-evolving landscape of global tourism, Saudi Arabia has emerged as a standout success story. According to Wego’s reports, the Kingdom, known for its rich cultural heritage and natural wonders, has achieved a historic milestone in the first half of 2023—a staggering travel account surplus of $10.6 billion.

Saudi Arabia’s record-breaking tourism surplus

During the initial half of 2023, Saudi Arabia recorded its highest-ever semi-annual surplus in the travel account of its balance of payments, reaching an impressive $10.6 billion. This remarkable achievement, as reported by the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA), represents a substantial growth rate of 327% compared to the first half of 2022 when the surplus stood at $2.5 billion.

The outstanding growth can be chiefly attributed to the robust spending by inbound tourists, which exceeded $22 billion in the first half of 2023, a significant increase from $9.7 billion during the same period in 2022. This translates to a growth rate of 130%, underscoring Saudi Arabia’s rising appeal as a tourist destination.

Conversely, outbound spending by Saudi Arabian travellers (Saudi and non-Saudi outside of the Kingdom) increased by 62%, rising from $7.2 billion in the first half of 2022 to $11.7 billion in the first half of 2023, indicating that Saudis are increasingly exploring international travel opportunities, taking advantage of eased travel restrictions and widespread vaccine availability.

Saudi Arabia’s tourism renaissance

In recent years, Saudi Arabia’s tourism industry has seen significant progress and achievements in line with the goals of Vision 2030, a plan designed to diversify the country’s economy and showcase its abundant cultural and natural treasures. In September 2019, Saudi Arabia introduced tourist visas, priced at $80, for visitors from 49 countries. These visas are available online (eVisa) or can be obtained upon arrival.

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