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Thu 20 Sep 2018 02:22 PM

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Saudi sees summer tourism spending reach $3.59bn

The kingdom is aiming to bring money spent by Saudis abroad back to the domestic market

Saudi sees summer tourism spending reach $3.59bn
Saudi Arabia's lush Al-Ahsa oasis is dotted with yet-to-be-excavated archeological sites, and carries traces of human occupation dating back to Neolithic times. UNESCO added Al-Ahsa Oasis to its World Heritage List in June.

Saudi Arabia saw tourism spending reach SAR13.5bn ($3.59bn) over the summer, according to data released this week by the Tourism Information and Research Centre.

The kingdom is aiming to bring money spent by Saudis abroad home through an entertainment drive that has seen it announce theme parks and a growing event calendar, including the World Boxing Super Series super-middleweight final this month.

The government-affiliated tourism body said the kingdom received 12% more tourist trips year-on-year to 11.3 million.

This included 2.3 million inbound trips, an increase of 21.2% on last year.

Tourism spending excluding travel for religious purposes grew 15.9% to SAR8.7bn ($2.3bn).

The Eastern Region was the most popular destination for inbound tourists, receiving 45% of visitors, compared to 27% in Riyadh and 16% in Makkah.

Visiting relatives and friends (39%) was the most common reason for inbound trips, followed by business (31%) and shopping (12 %) and the majority of visitors came from the Gulf states (50.8%), followed by South Asia (15.2%) and the Middle East (12.8%).

The number of outbound tourist trips from the kingdom reached 9.4 million during the same period, up 7.4% on 2017.

Outbound tourist spending was significantly higher at SAR30.5bn ($8.1bn) despite, decreasing 4.6% on 2017, with average expenditure of SAR1,196 per tourist.

For domestic tourists, Makkah was the top destination (31%), followed by Asir (18%), the Eastern region (12%) and Riyadh (11%).

Domestic tourists listed leisure and entertainment as their top reason to travel (51%) suggesting some progress with the kingdom’s entertainment agenda.

Visiting relatives and friends (35%) was the second most popular reason following by shopping (5%) and business (4%).

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