RIYADH — The World Travel & Tourism Council’s (WTTC) 2024 Economic Impact Research (EIR) has revealed a record-breaking year for Travel & Tourism in Saudi Arabia, with unprecedented achievements in GDP contribution, sector jobs, and visitor spending.

Saudi Arabia’s Travel & Tourism sector has surpassed all previous records, demonstrating the country’s commitment to becoming a global tourism hotspot.

Last year, the sector grew by more than 32%, contributing a record-breaking SR444.3 billion to Saudi Arabia’s GDP, representing 11.5% of the entire economy. This exceeds the previous record by nearly 30%, highlighting the sector’s pivotal role in the nation’s economic framework.

Jobs supported by the sector increased by 436,000, reaching over 2.5 million, accounting for nearly one in five jobs in the country. Although the jobs lost during the pandemic were fully recovered in 2022, today’s announcement shows sector employment in Travel & Tourism has increased by almost 24% since the previous peak.

International visitor spending surged by almost 57% to reach SR227.4 billion, breaking the previous record by SR93.6 billion, while domestic visitor spending grew by 21.5% to reach SR142.5 billion.

Seven years ahead of its target, Saudi Arabia welcomed 100 million tourists in 2023. The country is now aiming to attract 150 million tourists by 2030.

Julia Simpson, WTTC President & CEO, said, "Saudi Arabia’s Travel & Tourism sector's extraordinary achievements last year mark a pivotal moment in its journey towards becoming a global tourism leader. This success is a direct result of the Kingdom's visionary commitment to the sector, showcasing an impressive fusion of cultural heritage and innovative tourism initiatives."

Ahmed Al-Khateeb, Minister of Tourism of Saudi Arabia and Chairman of the Executive Council of UN Tourism, stated, “The latest data from WTTC provides further evidence of the rapid success we have achieved in transforming Saudi Arabia’s tourism industry. Tourism is a key pillar of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 economic diversification plans, with more than $800 billion earmarked by 2030.”

Travel & Tourism is forecast to continue growing in 2024, with GDP contribution expected to reach SR498 billion. Jobs are projected to increase by more than 158,000, reaching nearly 2.7 million. International visitor spending is projected to reach SR256 billion, almost double the previous high point, and domestic visitor spending is forecast to reach SR155.2 billion.

Looking ahead to the next decade, the WTTC forecasts that the sector will grow its annual GDP contribution to a staggering SR836.1 billion by 2034, almost 16% of the Saudi Arabian economy, and will employ more than 3.6 million people across the country, with one in five people working in the sector.

The Middle Eastern Travel & Tourism sector grew by more than 25% in 2023 to reach almost $460 billion. Jobs reached nearly 7.75 million, and international spending grew by 50% to reach $179.8 billion. Domestic visitor spending grew by 16.5% to reach more than $205 billion.

The WTTC forecasts that the Middle Eastern Travel & Tourism sector will continue to grow throughout 2024, with GDP contribution expected to reach $507 billion. Jobs are forecast to reach 8.3 million, international visitor spending is projected to reach $198 billion, and domestic visitor spending is expected to exceed $224 billion. 

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