Saudi Arabia said today that it expects the tourism sector to contribute between US$70 and US$80 billion to the kingdom’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by 2030 as part of its plans to diversify its income beyond oil.
“Our goal is to contribute 10% to GDP by 2030, which means injecting into the Saudi economy between US$70 and US$80 billion” a year, Saudi Tourism Minister Ahmed al Khatib said at a conference on new constructions in Riyadh.
Al Khatib, quoted by the official Saudi television, Al Ejbariya, recalled that this contribution “was 3% in 2019 before the crisis” generated by covid-19, a percentage that “at the end of last year was 4%.”
The minister considered that Saudi Arabia has “competitive incentives” to attract tourism, and stressed that his country has taken important steps to implement its ambitious plans to promote the sector and encourage local and foreign investment.
“By 2030, more than 700,000 hotel inhabitants will be added in different regions” of the country, added al Khatib.
He also encouraged businessmen to invest in the country’s tourism, and stressed that the Saudi Tourism Development Fund has financed 25 projects related to the sector in the last 18 months worth 15 billion riyals (about US$3.993 million). ).
That fund, he stated, “finances up to 60% of the project.”
In its quest to diversify its economy, highly dependent on oil exports, of which it is the world’s largest supplier, Saudi Arabia is developing an ambitious multi-million dollar plan to open up to international tourism.
Until three years ago, the ultra-conservative Arab kingdom was effectively limited to international tourists, except for the millions of faithful Muslims who visit Mecca and other holy sites in Saudi Arabia each year.
However, in recent years, the crown prince and de facto ruler, Mohamed bin Salman, has been personally involved in boosting the international tourism sector and has presented numerous million-dollar projects, such as the futuristic city of NEOM, a complex on the sea Red that covers 22 virgin islands or a luxury mountain tourism project.