Saudi Arabia’s travel and tourism sector is expected to contribute $70.9 billion in total to the country’s GDP in 2019, according to data from the World Travel and Tourism Council, as exhibitors prepare to showcase what the kingdom has to offer at this year’s Arabian Travel Market (ATM), which is being held at the Dubai World Trade Centre from April 28 – May 1.
According to data from ATM’s research partner Colliers, international arrivals to Saudi Arabia are expected to increase 5.6 per cent per year from 17.7 million in 2018 to 23.3 million in 2023. Religious tourism is expected to remain the bedrock of the sector over the next decade, with a goal of attracting 30 million pilgrims to the kingdom by 2030, an increase of 11 million from the 19 million Hajj and Umrah pilgrims that visited the country in 2017.
Vision 2030 has set aside $64 billion to invest in culture, leisure and entertainment projects over the next decade, which will significantly add to the attractiveness of the country as a touristic destination, according to a recent report from real estate firm Savills.
The first phase of the Red Sea project, which is estimated to grow the kingdom’s GDP by $5.86 billion and will consist of an airport, marinas, up to 3,000 hotel rooms and various recreational activities, is expected to be completed in 2022.
Additionally, last year, Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund announced the development of Amaala, a new ultra-luxury tourism megaproject which is earmarked for completion in 2028. The development will add 2,500 hotel rooms – further boosting the accommodation offering for both domestic and international visitors alike.
Looking ahead to ATM 2019, Saudi exhibitors, who will highlight what the kingdom has to offer and the exciting developments in the pipeline, include The Red Sea Development Company, Saudi Arabian Airlines, Makarem Hotels, AlfaOne Concierge – and of course the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage who will have a major presence too.
A focused seminar titled ‘Why Tourism is Saudi’s new ‘White Oil’ will take place on the Global Stage on April 29 between 14.50 – 15:50. The session will discuss Saudi Arabia’s tourism potential as the kingdom undergoes a period of rapid economic diversification and forges ahead with its Vision 2030 blueprint.
The upbeat tourism forecast is also being driven, by domestic tourism with the number of local tourist trips inside Saudi Arabia exceeding 47 million in 2018. The latest research from Colliers forecasts this figure to increase 8 per cent per year to 70.5 million by 2023.
ATM, considered by industry professionals as a barometer for the Middle East and North Africa tourism sector, welcomed over 39,000 people to its 2018 event, showcasing the largest exhibition in the history of the show, with hotels comprising 20% of the floor area.
Brand new for this year’s show will be the launch of Arabian Travel Week, an umbrella brand comprising four co-located shows including ATM 2019, ILTM Arabia, Connect Middle East, India & Africa – a new route development forum and new consumer-led event ATM Holiday Shopper. Arabian Travel Week will take place at Dubai World Trade Centre from April 27 – May 1.