90pc of Saudi agencies in trouble, says top official


A whopping 90 per cent of Saudi Arabia's travel agencies are not making enough money and many are losing business, says a senior Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry official.

Raed H Habiss, vice chairman of the chamber's air transport committee, attributed the problem to either lack of services or stagnation, although the industry has grown from 15 to 20 offices in 1980 to around 2,000 travel and tourism offices today.

Of them, about 50 per cent are agents of Saudi Arabian Airlines (SAA), a report said.

Habiss said local and international air ticket sales by SAA and the approximately 50 international airlines operating in the Kingdom at between SR8 billion ($2.1 billion) to SR12 billion annually.

"The problem is that only 10 per cent of the local travel and tourism agencies organise travel packages and group tours. The others only sell tickets and deal with accommodation and tours on their own," he said.

"Tourism offices should start seriously working on establishing specialised tourism departments that can serve clients in a professional manner, instead of competing only in ticket sales which does not generate good profits."