STOCK Saudi Arabia skyline
This achievement is attributed to enhanced infrastructure and a growing corporate presence Image Credit: Shutterstock

Dubai: RIYADH: Saudi Arabia has ascended nine positions to rank 41st on the global tourism index, marking the Gulf region’s most significant improvement.

This achievement is attributed to enhanced infrastructure, a growing corporate presence, and major business hubs.

According to the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Travel & Tourism Development Index (TTDI) report, the Kingdom has shown the most considerable progress in the Middle East and North Africa region since 2019.

The TTDI, covering 119 economies, evaluates factors and policies that promote the sustainable and resilient development of the tourism and travel sector, contributing to overall national development.

The report highlighted that high-income economies in the region, particularly within the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), have benefited from several key factors. These include superior infrastructure such as major aviation hubs and leading airlines, a robust corporate presence, significant business centers driving travel, and a favorable business environment.

The WEF findings also highlighted challenges faced by developing economies in the region, such as less attractive business environments, safety and security concerns, and deficiencies in transport and tourism infrastructure.

Many countries in the region have implemented policies and invested significantly in developing the tourism and travel sector. This initiative aims to diversify their economies and reduce reliance on the oil and gas industry.

Saudi Arabia plans to launch a new tourism strategy later this year, incorporating artificial intelligence and seamless technology, according to Gloria Guevara Manzo, chief special adviser at the Ministry of Tourism, speaking at the Future Aviation Forum. She added that the strategy aims to enhance the Kingdom’s cultural, historical, and hospitality assets.

In 2023, Saudi Arabia’s travel sector exceeded expectations, leading to an upward revision of its Vision 2030 targets from 100 million to 150 million visits by 2030.

Additionally, the Kingdom has introduced regulatory changes, such as the “Visiting Investor” visa and the expansion of the GCC unified visa service, to attract more international visitors and investors.

Major projects like NEOM, Riyadh Air, and the Red Sea Project are central to these efforts, aiming to make tourism a significant revenue source by 2030.