Saudi Tourism
Rijal Almaa in the Kingdom is a popular tourist sight. Image Credit:

Dubai: Saudi Arabia will start receiving foreign tourists from May 17, Princess Haifa Al Saud, deputy minister of tourism for strategy and investment, said.

“As many as 93 new companies have entered the Kingdom’s tourism market and the government has provided SR120 billion as incentives for the sector to counter the effects of coronavirus,” Princess Haifa said, noting that the volume of domestic spending on tourism jumped 33 per cent over the past summer.

She added that Kingdom’s tourism sector started receiving foreign tourists in 2019. “However, during the coronavirus pandemic, our first task was the safety and security of citizens and expatriates in Saudi Arabia, and we were able to provide the vaccine and reached a stage that enabled us to open the land and airports.”

Referring to Saudi Arabia’s targets for the tourism sector, Princess Haifa said: “In 2018, the contribution of the tourism sector to the gross domestic product (GDP) was 3.2 per cent, which is equal to SR147 billion of the volume of spending, and in 2019 it amounted to SR169 billion, with an increase of 3.5 per cent. In 2020, the volume of spending dropped to SR63 billion due to coronavirus-related procedures, resulting in a sharp drop in the number of pilgrims.”

According to Princess Haifa, the percentage of women working in the tourism sector reached 11 per cent and the tourism sector’s contribution to GDP at the global level is 7.9 per cent and it ranges between 10 and 12 per cent in the countries which attract the largest number of tourists.

She made these remarks while taking part in a television programme titled “Direct Question,”.

Saudi Arabia is expected to reach the global rates by 2030, with several major tourism projects are underway and whose results will come out soon.

“The volume of foreign investments in the tourism sector is SR30 billion, and a total of 50,000 new hotel rooms will be operational within two years. The first phase of the tourism strategy targets eight destinations and this will contribute to creating new jobs,” she said adding that the government’s priority is to empower Saudi men and women who possess many skills to work in tourism,” she said.

Last month, Saudi Arabia’s national carrier had said that the resumption of international flights from the kingdom, due on May 17, does not include 20 countries with which flights were banned last February.