RIYADH – The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), the global body that represents the private sector of the Travel & Tourism industry, announced a partnership with the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage to make Saudi Arabia a top five inbound destination, with 100 million international and domestic visits, by 2030.
The strategic partnership will harness the power and expertise of WTTC’s global membership, world class events and 30 years’ experience in research and strategic policy work to support Saudi Arabia’s ambitious goals and Vision 2030 plan.
Speaking in Riyadh at the launch of Saudi’s new tourism visa on World Tourism Day, Gloria Guevara, President & CEO of WTTC said “I congratulate Saudi Arabia on its decision to open the country to tourists from across the world and look forward to working together to make Saudi Arabia a must visit destination the world over. Today history is being written! The government has recognised the enormous opportunities tourism can bring to the country and I am delighted to see the changes that the destination is making to drive tourism, such as e-visa on arrival for 49 countries, investment in mega projects and infrastructure development.”
According to WTTC’s annual economic impact research data, in 2018 Travel & Tourism directly accounted for 3% of Saudi Arabia’s GDP and supported 0.6 million jobs (5% of employment). Saudi Arabia, with a thriving religious tourism sector, is already the largest Travel & Tourism economy in the Middle East.
Guevara continued, “The potential for tourism in Saudi Arabia is limitless. It has a wealth of natural and cultural resources and especially the amazing hospitality of the Saudi people, as yet undiscovered by international, and even many national, travellers. Travel & Tourism growth will not only create jobs and a diverse economy but will also spread a new understanding of Saudi Arabia’s rich culture around the world. We have seen how Travel & Tourism can transform nations and WTTC is delighted to support this new chapter as history is written in Saudi Arabia.”
SAGIA and SCTH announced around 27bn. dollars in new tourism agreements(MESOTITLOS)
Agreements represent full value chain, spanning hotel & hospitality, leisure, transport and real estate development
Spokespeople highlight the crucial role that the private sector plays in unlocking Saudi Arabia’s tourism sector
Signing ceremony held as major tourism announcements expected later tonight
Saudi Arabia opens to tourists from across the world, the General Investment Authority (SAGIA) and the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH) announce a number of memoranda of understanding (MOUs) and agreements with regional and international investors totaling around 100 billion SAR.
Signed at a ceremony held at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Riyadh, these agreements reflect the enormous potential Saudi Arabia's growing tourism sector offers to investors across the Kingdom and around the world.
Opening Saudi Arabia to tourism is a key milestone in the implementation of Vision 2030, which seeks to diversify the country’s economy and reduce its dependence on oil.
Saudi Arabia expects to increase international and domestic visits to 100 million a year by 2030, attracting significant foreign and domestic investment and creating a million jobs.
By 2030, the aim is for tourism to contribute up to 10% towards Saudi Arabia’s GDP, compared to just 3% today.
These agreements demonstrate the private sector’s confidence in the potential of the country’s tourism sector, and its prospects for future growth.
His Excellency Eng.Ibrahim Al-Omar, Governor of SAGIA, commented: “In Saudi Arabia, the market fundamentals are in place for a vibrant tourism industry, and we believe that the private sector will play a crucial role in unlocking this potential. At SAGIA, our role is to empower and enable domestic and international investors by identifying and developing new opportunities, fostering partnerships and shaping regulatory reforms. Signing these agreements today represents a milestone for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as we continue charting a path to a new diversified economy.”
His Excellency Ahmad Al Khateeb, Chairman of SCTH, added: “These exciting and wide-ranging agreements are only the beginning of the investment opportunities that will arise within Saudi Arabia - the fastest growing tourism sector on earth. We anticipate more businesses from around the world will establish operations within the Kingdom, as its unique attractions, culture and natural beauty become more widely appreciated.”
Agreements and MOUs signed by SAGIA include:
Triple 5 – an MoU and other investment opportunities worth SAR 37.5 billion, with Triple 5 planning to develop a series of mixed-use tourism, hospitality and entertainment destinations across the Kingdom.
- Majid Al Futtaim – an MOU worth SAR 20 billion for a mixed-use shopping and entertainment destination which will create 12,000 jobs and feature the region’s largest indoor ski slope and snow park.
- OYO Rooms – an MoU worth SAR 4 billion, as OYO announces its intent to purchase 10 or more upper-budget level and luxury hotel properties across the Saudi Arabia.
- Nenking Group / Ajlan Brothers – a joint-venture, worth SAR1.5 billion, to build a landmark lifestyle destination in Riyadh to serve as an anchor point for the Kingdom’s entertainment industry.
- FTG Development – an MoU to build a hotel, waterpark and retail development in Qiddiya; a 1,500 room hotel in NEOM; and a hotel situated between Jeddah and Makkah.
- Kerten Hospitality – an investment license with a value of SAR 270 million, with the company planning to develop a portfolio of mixed-use projects across the Kingdom.
- Tetrapylon – an investment license worth SAR 2.5 million, with the company planning to coordinate with leading tour operators across North America, Europe and Asia to profile Saudi Arabia as a must visit global tourist destination.
Agreements and MOUs facilitated by SCTH include:
- Al Khozama – two MoUs concerning the Mayasem Project and the Harbour Project in Jeddah, along with other investment plans. These cover real estate, food and beverage investments, as well as facility management services and business development projects.
- Diriyah Gate Development Authority – two MoUs; the first with Greg Norman Golf Design to establish a 27-hole golf course at Wadi Safar. The second agreement is with AMAN Resorts to build an exclusive 40 room hotel in Al Bujairi, overlooking the Wadi Hanifah Valley and At-Turaif UNESCO World Heritage Site.
- Saudia – the airline has agreed four MoUs, with the first agreement involving the launch of the first commercial flights to NEOM. The other MoUs cover the creation of Saudi Arabia's first destination management company (with the regulatory support of Saudi Commission for Tourism & National Heritage); a joint initiative between Saudia and SAUDIA and The Red Sea Development Company to promote the Red Sea Project as a luxury global destination to drive inbound tourism; and an agreement with the Royal Commission for Al-Ula.
- In addition, organisations have made investment commitments collectively valued at SAR 36.25 billion, including Alshaya Group, Shomoul, Radisson, Alrajhi Investment and Seera Group.
These investments come alongside a broad series of economic reforms which are enabling rapid growth in foreign investment in Saudi Arabia. The total number of foreign investor licenses issued in the first half of 2019 was more than double the number issued the same period a year before.
Saudi Arabia must ensure benefits of change are inclusive with the opening of the tourism sector, says MEED (MESOTITLOS)
Following the news (Friday 27 September) that Saudi Arabia has introduced reforms to its visa regulations and dress-code restrictions for women to encourage foreign tourists;
Richard Thompson, Editorial Director at GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company, offers his view on Saudi Arabia’s tourism market: “The opening up of Saudi Arabia’s tourism market to international visitors is a significant reform for the kingdom and is very important to the kingdom’s Vision 2030 reform agenda led by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman."
“Diversification of the Saudi economy away from oil is one of the core objectives of the Vision 2030 reforms and tourism is right at the front of the diversification agenda."
“Saudi Arabia is already the biggest tourist market in the region in terms of visitors. However, the vast majority of visitors are pilgrims visiting the holy sites at Mecca and Medina. Many other visitors are on business trips."
“Saudi Arabia is set to see a long-term surge in visitor numbers which will drive significant new non-oil revenues for the country and attract investment. Most important of all, it will create new jobs and career opportunities for young Saudis."
“The past 12 months have seen significant progress in Saudi Arabia’s reform programme. However, real change always takes time to take hold in Saudi Arabia and many reforms that have been announced in the past have been bogged down by bureaucratic inertia or political resistance. This can create confusion and frustration for investors."
“To overcome this resistance, Saudi Arabia’s reforms must continue to build internal capacity to ensure that institutional and bureaucratic barriers are removed. They must ensure that the benefits of the reforms reach everybody in the kingdom and are not felt only by the rich, urban elite."
“In particular, Riyadh must ensure that the Kingdom’s rural youth population does not miss out on the benefits of the reform agenda.”