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Saudi tourism surges as foreign visitors spend 570% more in Q2

Improving economic conditions are driving confidence for future business activity over the next 12 months, says Riyad Bank.
  • 42.3% increase in domestic tourism, with spend up 31.5%
  • Q2 visitor numbers to the kingdom hit 46 million
  • 1.3m tourist visas issued between 2019 and 2022

International visitors to Saudi Arabia spent SAR 15.7 billion ($4.17 billion) in the second quarter of this year, a year-on-year increase of 570 percent, as the country continues its recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.

The kingdom welcomed 3.6 million tourists from April to June, a rise of 575.4 percent year-on-year, according to figures revealed by the Ministry of Investment (Misa).

Domestic tourism also witnessed a 42.3 percent increase in the second quarter, with 21.4 million visitors across the country. At SAR 22.7 billion ($6.05 billion), spend was up 31.5 percent.

Overall, for the first half of 2022, tourists spent SAR 60.2 billion ($16 billion) in the kingdom, as visitor numbers hit 46 million.

This compared to 46.2 million visitors and a total annual tourist spend of SAR 63.5 billion ($16.89 billion) for the entire year in 2020 at the height of the Covid pandemic.

Under the Saudi Arabia Vision 2030 strategy, the tourism sector’s contribution to gross domestic product aims to increase to more than 10 percent, while providing 1.6 million additional job opportunities and attracting 100 million annual visits by 2030.

Figures from the Saudi ministry show that 1.3 million tourist visas were issued from 2019 to 2022. The kingdom has also advanced 10 positions to 33rd over the past three years on the Travel and Tourism Development Index.

Countries are ranked on factors related to the development, sustainability and resilience of their travel and tourism industry, which in turn contributes to economic and social development.

The list was topped by Japan, followed by the United States, Spain, France and Germany.

At the World Tourism and Travel Council Summit last month, Saudi Arabia’s ambition to become one of the top five destinations in the world in the next decade was described as “unparalleled”.

Arnold Donald, chair of the World Tourism and Travel Council, said: “Over the past three years it has been a great privilege to see the progress made here with our own eyes.”