The Saudi government is investing heavily in its tourism sector, principally to provide employment opportunities for Saudi graduates. According to a 2013 MENA tourism and hospitality report by research consultancy Aranca, investment in the travel and tourism sector is expected to increase at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of four percent to SAR 30.9 billion over a ten year period from 2013 to 23.
“The travel and tourism sector’s direct contribution to Saudi Arabian GDP is projected to increase at a CAGR of four percent to SAR 83.7 billion by 2023.
Put that into perspective it is equivalent to about nine percent of current Saudi GDP, which is a great achievement, as the Kingdom looks to diversify its economy away from hydrocarbon receipts,” the Portfolio Director, Reed Travel Exhibitions, Mark Walsh, said.
The number of tourists visiting KSA is estimated to increase at a CAGR of two percent to 21.3 million over the period 2013 – 2023. Revenues will total SAR 60.9 billion by 2023 – due to an increase in the number of Hajj and Umrah tourists and growth of international shopping centres.
To cope with the increasing number of visitors, the Saudi government has outlined a plan to invest more than US$ 30 billion in its airports by 2020, including US$ 10 billion in private investment for the sector. More than US$ 12.5 billion has already been earmarked for the country’s four main international airports in Jeddah, Riyadh, Dammam and Madinah.
“These four airports handle 91.5 percent of total air travel throughout the country, including 72.5 percent of domestic travel. Spending from leisure tourists is expected to rise at a CAGR of 4.4 percent to SAR 79 billion by 2023,” added Walsh.
Riyadh is the final leg of the six Middle East destinations being visited by the ATM team during its roadshow which took in Bahrain, Kuwait, Beirut, Muscat and Dubai last week.
A strong delegation from the Kingdom is expected at ATM. Led by the Saudi Commission for Tourism & Antiquities it includes, Saudia Airline, Umrah & Makarim Hospitality Group, Fursan Travel & Leisure, Hanco Rent a Car, EbreezTech, Rahhal International, and Unique Choice.
Current and potential exhibitors visited during the roadshow will learn about new event features including the introduction of an annual theme, with 2014 shining the spotlight on the luxury travel sector. The seminar programme in particular will focus on this important theme, which is particularly relevant to Dubai and the rest of the Gulf region.
The popular Arabian Travel Market (ATM) seminars return covering travel technology and other key industry issues such as luxury travel trends, aviation, Expo 2020, CSR and mid-scale hotels. Also returning are the visitor trails, helping visitors identify the specific travel sectors on the show floor including: shopping, career, budget, health and wellness, air and water travel.
New this year is a showcase theatre, which offers exhibitors the opportunity to present their products and services in one hour sessions and the ATM Live Wall, which will broadcast live streaming of interviews, panel debates and other show highlights.
Expanding into an additional exhibition hall, Arabian Travel Market 2014 will take place from the May 5-8 at the Dubai International Convention & Exhibition Centre. Last year, ATM welcomed over 21,000 visitors from 165 countries, covering 22,000 square metres of floor space.