Saudi Arabia’s exponential sector growth has seen an extraordinary +121% increase from pre-pandemic international tourism levels as recognized by the newly published UNWTO Tourism Barometer. The substantial tourism recovery recognizes not only Saudi’s considerable investment in tourism, but also the country’s pioneering leadership in future-proofing its tourism sector.
Saudi was swift in its response to the pandemic and rolled out vaccines to ensure high immunization rates quickly which accelerated the easing of restrictions and the reopening of the country to tourists. The government also implemented several measures aimed at supporting companies and employees working in the tourism sector thereby mitigating the effects of the pandemic. Tourism is a key pillar of Saudi’s transformative Vision 2030 and the country has ambitious goals to ensure that tourism contributes 10% of the country’s GDP by 2030, with one million jobs created along the way.
According to the UNWTO Tourism Barometer, the global tourism sector saw international tourist arrivals almost triple from January to July 2022 (+172%) compared to the same period of 2021. This means the sector recovered to almost 60% of pre-pandemic levels.
Ahmed Al Khateeb, Minister of Tourism of Saudi Arabia, and chairman of the board of Saudi Tourism Authority said: “Recognition of Saudi’s achievements in the UNWTO Tourism Barometer is a key milestone in our extraordinary recovery and much of the success lies in our leadership’s multipronged approach to managing the pandemic and accelerating the sector’s pace of recovery. Saudi opened to the world in September 2019 and through continued leadership and commitment, we have made incomparable progress toward realizing our ambitious Vision 2030 tourism goals. We are invested in a sustainable future for tourism, and today I am proud of Saudi’s position as the fastest growing tourism destination in the G20.”
In 2020, Saudi Arabia’s G20 leadership shaped strategies for recovery to foster a more sustainable and resilient sector, and today, Saudi Arabia has outperformed the G20 countries in pre-pandemic tourism recovery. A core pillar of Saudi’s transformative Vision 2030, an ambitious roadmap for the future, building a resilient tourism ecosystem is fundamental to the Kingdom’s economic diversification strategy, with people at its core. In line with the National Tourism Strategy, Saudi has ambitious goals to ensure that tourism contributes 10% of the country’s GDP by 2030, with one million jobs created along the way.