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Tourism boom in Saudi Arabia, spending reaches $40 billion in 2023

This showcases a growth rate of 42.8%, as compared to 2022.

Tourism boom in Saudi Arabia, spending reaches $40 billion in 2023
[Source photo: Krishna Prasad/Fast Company Middle East]

Until some years ago, Saudi Arabia was not the top-of-the-mind destination one thought of for historical exploration or luxurious leisure. But now, it is investing heavily in tourism and travel; the target is 10% of GDP by 2030 to be contributed by the tourism sector.

Several giga projects are in the pipeline, and many projects have opened up recently, including the Red Sea global tourism, the Qiddiya entertainment city, and the Diriyah Gate heritage development initiatives, along with the $500 billion giga-project, NEOM.

According to the latest data from the Saudi Central Bank, tourist spending reached a record high of $39.95 billion in 2023. This showcases a growth rate of 42.8%, as compared to 2022. 

The report also outlined that the Gulf state experienced a recovery rate of 156% in the number of visitors during 2023 compared to 2019. 

Moreover, the kingdom had surpassed its Vision 2030 target of attracting 100 million visitors seven years ahead of schedule, getting international acclaim from the World Tourism Organization (UN Tourism) and the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC.)  

Following this, Saudi’s Minister of Tourism, Ahmed Al-Khateeb, announced in 2023 that the kingdom will raise its initial goal of attracting 100 million visitors by the end of the decade to 150 million

Saudi Arabia has been witnessing many wins in its tourism sector.

In 2023, the kingdom made it to the top of the United Nations’ World Tourism Organization list for the growth rate of international tourist numbers compared to 2019.  

The achievement marked a 56% increase in 2023 compared to 2019, as highlighted in the barometer report issued by the UNWTO in January 2024.  

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