Saudi tourism revenue to increase 4.8% in 2010

Tourism revenue expected to reach US $17.6 billion

Travel, Hajj, Saudi tourism

Saudi Arabia expects revenue from tourism to increase 4.8% in 2010 as the kingdom tries to attract more visitors and religious pilgrims, according to the official Saudi Press Agency.

Tourism revenue will reach SR66bn ($17.6bn) and rise to SR118bn in 2015, the Riyadh- based news service stated, citing Saleh al-Bakhit, the deputy chairman for investments at the Saudi Commission for Tourism & Antiquities.

Saudi Arabia wants to develop its tourism industry as it tries to diversify its economy away from oil and also to create employment for its youth.

Saudi nationals represented 117,384 of the 457,658 people employed by the tourism industry at the end of 2009, according to Al-Bakhit.

The report added that the Riyadh-based tourism commission wants to attract increased investment in the sector and will start a development company to identify new opportunities in the kingdom.

Saudi Arabia attracts around 2 million visitors a year for the annual pilgrimage to Mecca, but the commission also wants to promote its Red Sea coastline and historical sites as tourist destinations.

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