By Sam Bridge
YouGov research, which surveyed 9,521 people across the US, China and five key markets in Europe, reveals a growing interest in visiting the Gulf kingdom
New research has identified a rise in tourism interest in Saudi Arabia from around the world, with one in five tourists more likely to visit Saudi Arabia for a vacation now than five years ago.
The YouGov research, which surveyed 9,521 people across the US, China and five key markets in Europe, revealed a growing interest in visiting the Gulf kingdom.
The data coincides with the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH) revealing its top inbound source markets since Saudi Arabia's opened its doors to international tourism.
Since the launch of the new tourism visa in September, visitors from China, UK, Malaysia, United States and Canada have topped the list of new arrivals welcomed into Saudi Arabia.
Saudi's historic sites appear to be an important attraction for tourists to the kingdom. Among those surveyed by YouGov, over one in five (22 percent) are keen to visit Jeddah's historic old town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Al Ula, another UNESCO site, previously only known to a few travellers, is gaining a following among Chinese millennials and now tops the list of destinations in the Arab world of a third of Chinese tourists under the age of 35.
Italians top the list with 35 percent surveyed saying they would be more likely to visit Saudi Arabia following the new visa launch.
British tourists said they are 15 percent more likely just ahead of Americans at 14 percent.
The research also points to new opportunities for multi destination tourism growth. Of all respondents 73 percent reported a preference to visit several destinations rather than stay in one location.
The research is released as Saudi Arabia takes on the presidency of the Arab League Tourism Ministers Meeting at the end of a historic year for the kingdom.
Tourism Ministers from across the Arab world met last month for the 22nd Annual Arab Tourism Ministers Meeting and discussed opportunities for regional-wide tourism offerings and unified strategies for sustainable growth of the sector to benefit local communities and the environment.
Ahmad bin Aqil Al Khatib, chairman of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH) said: "We are welcoming more visitors and investors than ever before. To those thinking of visiting Saudi Arabia in 2020, you won't find a warmer welcome anywhere in the world."