Tourism is seen as a key driver of economic growth and job creation, and Saudi Arabia is staking its claim as a major player in the global travel industry.
The country has skyrocketed to the top of the travel wish list for residents of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), according to travel booking platform Wego. It has held the coveted No. 1 spot since July 2023.
“The kingdom stands out as a popular choice among travelers seeking a distinctive cultural experience,” says Wego’s Chief Business Officer, Mamoun Hmedan.
In 2023, the country welcomed 27 million foreign tourists, exceeding its initial target by over 100%. This achievement comes just five years after the country opened its doors to tourism, defying concerns about regional instability.
Building on this momentum, Saudi Arabia has set even more ambitious goals for the future. By 2030, it aims to attract 150 million tourists, with 70 million coming from abroad. This represents a significant increase from the target of 100 million, with only 30 million foreign visitors.
In recent years, the country has relaxed rules on gender-mixed concerts and sporting extravaganzas. Also, new resorts along the Red Sea coast are expected to be a major draw.