By Staff writer
Religious tourism seen as particularly important for driving economic growth during 2016
Tourism spending in Saudi Arabia is expected to exceed SR144.3 billion ($38.4 billion) this year, according to official forecasts.
Figures from the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH) show the total expected spending by domestic tourists and tourists from overseas.
Meanwhile, Saudis are expected to spend more than SR86 billion ($22.9 billion) on tourism abroad, according to the SCTH’s latest tourism statistics bulletin.
There are 11 international hotels projects in the pipeline that will provide over 2,800 new rooms, Saudi Gazette reported.
It said SCTH director-general for Makkah Province, Muhammad Bin Abdullah Al Amri, described tourism as the second more important sector for driving economic growth after oil and petrochemicals, and he urged the kingdom to support and encourage new foreign investors in the tourism industry.
“There ought to be keenness to provide the best international and local hotels in order to raise the standard of the tourism industry,” he was quoted as saying.
Meanwhile, Ziyad Bin Mahfouz, CEO of Saudi hospitality firm Elaf Group, said religious tourism in particular has significant potential for growth.
“The continued growth in religious tourism is a positive development that signals that the Kingdom is on the right track in its national economic plan,” he told Saudi Gazette.
“Religious tourism will significantly contribute to the country’s shift toward the post oil era. There is a huge room for growth in tourism, not only for religious pilgrimages.”
More than 600,000 pilgrims are expected to arrive in Madinah this week before Haj, according to the Ministry of Haj and Umrah.