Saudi Arabia’s inbound tourism is growing and is expecting more visitors, thanks to the kingdom opening its doors to tourists worldwide and simplified visa processes, according to a new travel study.
The introduction of e-visas and visa-on-arrival for citizens of 49 countries will increase the number of people visiting the kingdom, a report commissioned by Seera Group and titled “‘Decoding the Saudi Arabian Travel and Tourism Industry” said.
The report added that the strategy by the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Heritage to entice first-time visitors to ‘discover Saudi’ from 2019 to 2022 and its subsequent extension to ‘experience Saudi’ will contribute to significant gains for the industry.
Projects like the Red Sea Project, NEOM, Seven and Amaala are expected to support inbound tourism. Hajj and Umrah tourism are poised for growth, especially with visitors now being able to complete Umrah pilgrim trips any time during the year and not needing specialised Umrah visas anymore.
For outbound tourism, Saudi Arabians like to take at least one trip every year as family, Seera Group’s consumer travel brand Almosafer, noted.
While London, Dubai, Paris, Cairo and Sharm El-Sheikh are the top five all-time favourite destinations for Saudis; Baku, Tbilisi, Kuala Lumpur, Dubrovnik and Jakarta are currently trending.
While men in Saudi Arabia make most of the travel bookings, actual decisions were made by women. When choosing to travel to a place for the first time, or when not recommended by a family or friend, Saudi Arabians look for online reviews by other Saudis, the report said.
On average, Saudi travelers book their trips 26 days in advance, while over 80 percent of Saudi Arabians prefer to travel via full-service airline carriers and 86 percent book four or five-star properties for their international travels with an average spend of over $180 per night.
Another key trend is that in terms of domestic travel, 79 percent of Saudi Arabians book four or five-star hotels and 41 percent take trips of three days or more, with bookings made nine days in advance, during January to August 2019.
(Reporting by Gerard Aoun, editing by Seban Scaria)
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