Domestic tourism in Saudi Arabia set to reach $19.5 billion in 2020

Saudi beckons tourists

ACCORDING to a recent report by the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (SAMA), domestic tourism in Saudi Arabia is expected to record phenomenal growth rates with the total income from domestic tourism forecast to reach SR73.3 billion ($19.5) in 2010 and SR101.3 billion ($27.5 billion) in 2020.

Addressing the audience at the Saudi Travel & Tourism Investment Market (STTIM), Dr. Ahmed Al-Khalifa, SAMA secretary general said that tourism accounted for three per cent to the country’s GDP in 2006. He added that his agency recently issued its annual report which gathers information on the number of trips, hotel occupancy rates and total sector income in addition to comparative statistics with other GCC countries.
Al-Khalifa also stated that more than 342,000 employees are working in tourism sector in the Kingdom in areas related to hotels, resorts, furnished apartments, cafes, travel agencies, transportation and entertainment. ”The number of employees working in hotels and resorts reached 47,000 employees, 21 per cent of them being Saudis, while employees working in furnished apartments reached 26000, 19 per cent of them being Saudis.”
During the session, Dr Mohamed Al-Ahmed, general director of Research and Tourism Information (MAS), which is affiliated with STTIM, talked about the Saudi Tourism Satellite Accounting (TSA) model, which tracks travel and tourism's economic contribution - the TSA was adopted in 2001 by the United Nations Statistical Commission.
“The TSA provides a methodology that is internationally approved and includes measurement of expenditure on tourism by domestic and international tourists. It also tracks the size of the industry, including its contribution to GDP and employment,” said Al-Ahmed.
He also noted that when the commission had completed its 2005 TSA tracking, it found that the total expenditure on domestic tourism reached SR57.8 billion ($15.4 billion), of which SR35.5 billion ($9.5 biilion) went on local tourism and SR22.2 billion ($6 billion) on foreign tourism. The sector’s contribution amounted to SR36.4 billion ($9.1 billion), of which SR10.1 billion ($2.7 billion) on was spent on worker compensation.
In 2005, the TSA noted that the added value of tourism sector in the Kingdom reached 3.1 per cent of GDP, and 6.4 per cent of the non-oil GDP. The number of employees working in tourism sector reached 314,000 employees representing 5.2 per cent of the total labour force in the Kingdom for both the public and private sectors. Employees working in the sector were from both these sectors, with Saudis representing 15 per cent of the total workforce in the industry.