Massive investments worth over $810 billion in mega tourism projects across Saudi Arabia is expected to transform the kingdom into one of the largest leisure tourism sectors in the world between now and 2030, according to a research conducted by the Middle East and North Africa Leisure Attractions Council (Menalac), the leisure and entertainment industry council representing the Middle East’s dynamic leisure attractions sector.
These include the $500 billion mega development Neom which leads the list of the mega projects followed by the $10 billion Qiddiyah Project, spread across 334 sq km in Riyadh.
The third project is Amaala, or the Saudi Riviera, located in the northern region with an area of 3,800 sq km, and developing islands in the Red Sea with a total area of 34,000 sq km.
Once completed, it will deliver a futuristic mega sustainable city.
According to the report, Saudi Arabia is looking to more than double its investment in recreation from the current 2.9% to 6% by 2030.
Mishal Al Hokair, Board Member of Menalac, said: "Saudi Arabia has an array of dynamic plans and attractions planned over the next few years, each of which will add to the fast growing Leisure and Entertainment sector."
"Its Vision 2030 will change the entire economic and tourism landscape of not only Saudi Arabia, but the entire Middle East region, that will have a massive positive knock-on effect on the leisure tourism industry," noted Al Hokair.
"Once the current Covid-19 situation improves, the investment and development in the Saudi Arabia’s tourism sector will bring massive opportunities for the industry. It is time for everyone to prepare for the next big growth," he added.
Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH), the country’s tourism regulator, said the mega tourism projects being developed by Public Investment Fund will be spread over an area of more than 64,634 sq km, with a value exceeding $810 billion.
In addition, SCTH will be developing museums in various Saudi regions, and preserving Saudi heritage with a cost of more than $1.3 billion.
Saudi Arabia foresees that the national tourism will significantly contribute to the gross domestic product as the most growing non-oil economic sector. The tourism revenues increased to more than SR193 billion ($51 billion) in 2017, and to more than SR211 billion ($56 billion) in 2018, SCTH said in a report.
In 2017, the kingdom's tourism sector had attracted $28.6 billion, more than six times the world average in tourism capital investment, it added.
Despite the current situation with regards to Covid-19, Saudi Arabia is pushing ahead with construction of some of these massive projects. A number of construction contracts have recently been awarded following the partial re-opening of the economy after the lockdown.
Red Sea Development Company has recently awarded construction contracts worth $1 billion while Neom has awarded Bechtel and Aecom programme management contract.
Changes and growth in Saudi tourism landscape will help leisure attractions operators in the Middle East and North African (Mena) countries. The recent reopening of the land borders by Saudi Authorities will help boost regional tourism in the GCC region.
SCTH plans to facilitate investment SR171.05 billion that will boost the tourism industry capacity and the number of hotel rooms to 621,600 rooms and boost the tourism sector’s contribution to the GDP by 3.1 per cent, and increase direct employment to 1.2 million jobs.
Prakash Vivekanand, the board member of Menalac, said: "The latest news from Saudi Arabia is very encouraging. The government wants to push ahead with the mega projects that will not only boost the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) but also the tourism sector."
It will create massive opportunities for all the players in the leisure attractions business and we could count on an exciting future for the industry in the Mena region.”
According to Saudi Arabia’s General Investment Authority (Sagia), the country wants to increase investment in recreational facilities to 6 per cent from the current 2.9 per cent per annum – more than double the current level, as part of Saudi Vision 2030.
“In 2017, the Saudi tourism sector had attracted investment of SR172 billion ($28.6 billion), which was six times the world average in tourism capital investments,” according to a report by Sagia. “Investments are expected to rise 5.5 per cent per annum over the next ten years to SR200 billion ($54 billion) per annum.”
Rosa Tahmaseb, Secretary General of Menalac, said: "The leisure attractions industry in the Mena region is upbeat with the new opportunities that are arising in Saudi Arabia."
"We see massive opportunities for our industry being created by more than a $1 trillion investment in the Saudi economy between now and 2030," she noted.
Tahmaseb called upon all leisure industry stakeholders, both suppliers and operators to explore these opportunities and ascertain how they can take a leading role in helping Saudi Arabia develop its leisure facilities in the coming decade.
According to her, tourism and entertainment are an essential part of the Saudi Vision 2030 which is aimed at diversifying the Saudi economy by reducing its dependence on oil.
Saudi Arabia aims to develop versatile tourism destinations, which include several coastal sites, marvellous islands and distinguished heritage areas, all of which will require a high level of expertise, support and the most innovative attractions, technology and experiences to ensure the kingdom becomes one of the top tourist and entertainment destinations in the Middle East within the next few years.
"Despite the short-term setback created by the Covid-19 pandemic, the long-term prospects for our industry remain bright. One example of this can be seen in the dynamic projects planned for Saudi Arabia," she added.-TradeArabia News Service
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