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Tue 14 Feb 2012 05:42 PM

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Saudi Arabia expecting 15.8 million tourists by 2014

Hospitality sector set to rise with 381,000 new hotel rooms

Saudi Arabia expecting 15.8 million tourists by 2014
The under-construction Makkah Royal Clock Tower hotel complex in the holy Saudi city of Makkah

The number of tourists heading to Saudi Arabia is expected to reach 15.8 million by 2014, up from around 13 million in 2010, according to international industry consultant Business Monitor International (BMI).

The Kingdom’s hospitality sector will grow in tandem, with some 381,000 new hotel rooms expected by 2015, representing 63% of additional room stock against 2010 inventories, driven by, business, religious and domestic tourists, BMI said.

In terms of its 2011 performance, STR Global reports that the Kingdom recorded positive results in three key areas of occupancy, rate and RevPar despite the Arab Spring. Occupancy levels rose by 8.6% to 58.2%, while RevPar grew by an impressive 17.4% to US$120 and average daily rates increased by 8.1% to reach US$206.

Consistent with those results, Arabian Travel Market (ATM), the leading travel exhibition in the Middle East, has seen visitor registrations up by 118%.

The number in visitors interested in buying travel products and services from the Kingdom has risen 116% to 1,168 compared with the same period last year witnessing strong online visitor interest months ahead of the event, from travel professionals in the Kingdom.

“Saudi Arabia continues to focus on its tourism industry as it looks to diversify away from its dependence on oil, with revenues from tourism accounting for around 3.6% of GDP,” said Mark Walsh, Portfolio Director, Reed Travel Exhibitions.

“The tourism authority has announced it aims to attract 88 million tourists by 2020 as the kingdom focuses on developing religious tourism and business travel in particular,” he added.

Religious tourism remains the main reason for overseas visitors to Saudi. More than half of inbound visitors travel to Mecca and Medina, making it a major focus for major investment in hotels and leisure development.

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