Saudi Arabia’s religious tourism market is expected to grow by about 20 per cent annually over the next decade.
Hotels in Makkah and Madinah are also forecasting strong occupancy rates this year, according to The Rezidor Hotel Group, one of the world’s fastest growing hotel companies, which plans to open three new properties in the holy cities by 2010.
“The Kingdom’s geographical, economic and social attributes have a lot to offer to tourists, particularly Muslim travellers who visit the country for Hajj,” said district director Saudi Arabia of The Rezidor Hotel Group Mohamed Benamar.
“Saudi Arabia is one of our major growth markets and religious tourism will be our main focus,” he added.
And according to the Supreme Commission for Tourism (SCT) which was formed to build and organise Saudi Arabia’s tourism sector, the number of tourists who visit the country will double to 45.3 million by 2020 and the Kingdom will be required to provide an additional 50,000 hotel rooms and 74,000 furnished units within that timeframe.
“The domestic tourism market in the Kingdom is currently untapped and there is huge potential in this sector. According to a SCT report, Saudi nationals spend nearly $14.5 billion on travel annually and the Kingdom also earns tourism revenues worth $1.8 billion a year almost exclusively from religious tourism,” added Benamar.
The Rezidor Hotel Group will open its first class full service brand, Radisson SAS Hotels & Resorts in Makkah by 2010 and its fresh and energetic mid-market Park Inn brand by 2009.
Al Diyafa Radisson Hotel will have 256 rooms, state-of-the-art facilities including a separate male and female spa, four restaurants, six meeting rooms and 1250 square metre ballroom for weddings and banquets.
The Al Diyafa Park Inn Makkah will be in the Al Zahir area approximately three kilometres from the Haram, with 221 rooms, a restaurant, a lobby lounge, a business centre, seven meetings rooms, two courtyards, a gym and 103 car parking spaces.
The Al Madinah Paradise Radisson SAS Resort will feature 212 luxurious guestrooms as well as 10 villas. It is just seven kilometres from the Haram.