By Andy Sambidge
Saudi Commission for Tourism & Antiquities also says tourism jobs rise to more than 491,000
A total of 22.7 million tourists visited Saudi Arabia last year, spending more than $8bn, according to a report from the Saudi Commission for Tourism & Antiquities (SCTA).
The report, produced by MAS, SCTA's statistical arm, revealed that the total number of jobs created by tourism in the kingdom reached more than 491,750 in 2010, a 2.7 percent increase on the previous year.
It added that Saudi nationals working in the tourism sector totalled over 128,000, about 26 percent of the employees in the industry.
The report said that the average daily expenditure per tourist reached SR268 ($71.40) last year, compared with SR168 in 2009 - a rise of 59.1 percent.
It also showed that the average number of nights spent in the kingdom by tourists was 5.1 nights in 2010 compared with 6.2 nights in 2009.
SCTA said hotel room occupancy rates in the kingdom increased to 59.2 percent last year, compared with 54.6 percent in the previous year.
According to the report, the GDP share of the tourism sector in Saudi Arabia was estimated at about 3.6 percent in 2010.
Earlier this month, the SCTA said nearly 50 new hotels offering more than 14,000 rooms are expected to open in Saudi Arabia this year to cope with a huge increase in visitors.
Hotel properties valued at $7.3bn are set to start operations in the kingdom, with tourism officials expecting to see tourist numbers rise to 88 million over the next decade.For all the latest travel news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.