Saudi tourism reports 25% growth, thanks to GCC
Bahrain and Kuwait account for the largest number of GCC visitors to Saudi Arabia, followed by Qatar and the UAE
Saudi Arabia has seen a 25% year-on-year increase in visitor number, with GCC tourism being the main focus for the kingdom, reports ETN.
According to data released by the Saudi Commission for Tourism & National Heritage (SCTNH); approximately 7.4 million visitors entered KSA during the first six months of 2015. This figure represents a 25% increase on the same period in 2014.
2.1 million visitors were ‘day visitors’. Among the other 5.2 million visitors staying overnight in KSA, $3.15 billion (SR11.8 billion) was spent on the equivalent of 30.5 million room nights.
Bahrain and Kuwait accounted for the largest number of GCC visitors to Saudi Arabia, followed by Qatar and the UAE.
Arabian Travel Market exhibition manager Nadege Noblet-Segers commented: “A recent report by the Saudi Eastern Province Chamber of Commerce and Industry stated that tourism contributed 2.7% of the country’s GDP, with 2014 tourism receipts totalling around US$45.3 billion.
"While the bulk of this comes from Hajj and Umrah travel, which accounted for almost US$27 billion, this clearly demonstrates the strong domestic travel market within the Kingdom, as well as the growing business travel segment.”
“Hajj and Umrah travel is also an opportunity for additional revenue generation, with the authorities reportedly keen to encourage visitors to extend their stay and discover all that Saudi Arabia has to offer from a leisure perspective.
“And with forecasted visitor numbers to the holy sites of Makkah and Madinah set to rise from 12 million to 17 million visitors per annum by 2025, there is plenty of opportunity for the country’s tourism sector to benefit.”
Noblet-Segers added that areas such as the Nabatean ruins at UN World Heritage site Madain Saleh and marine wildlife sanctuary Farasan Islands present additional tourism attractions, with potential to draw visitors to Saudi in future.