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Tourist spending in Saudi Arabia rises 23% to $12bn

Tourists visit the Nabatean tombs in AlUla. The ministry of tourism said more than 106 million tourists visited Saudi Arabia last year Alamy via Reuters
Tourists visit the Nabatean tombs in AlUla. The ministry of tourism said more than 106 million tourists visited Saudi Arabia last year

Inbound visitor spending in Saudi Arabia rose 23 percent year on year in the first quarter of 2024.

Spending reached SAR45 billion ($12 billion) in the January to March period from SAR36.6 billion a year ago, tourism ministry data showed.

The surplus in the travel account stood at SAR24 billion during the period, rising 46 percent year on year.

Outbound spending reached SAR21 billion during the period, compared to SAR20.2 billion a year earlier.

In February the ministry of tourism said more than 106 million tourists visited Saudi Arabia last year, surpassing the kingdom’s 2030 target and prompting it to set a new goal of welcoming 150 million annual visitors by the end of the decade.

Tourism minister Ahmed Al-Khateeb said in May Saudi Arabia will invest more than $800 billion in its main giga-projects by the next decade as part of a tourism expansion strategy focused on affluent tourists in China, India and Europe. 

Speaking at the Qatar Investment Forum, he said: “We’re building and investing in major destinations like NeomRed SeaQiddiya and Diriyah, with an announced investment of more than $800 billion in the next seven years.”

As part of its Vision 2030 transformation plan to diversify away from reliance on oil revenue Saudi Arabia wants to increase tourism’s share of GDP from 4.5 percent at present to 10 percent by 2030.

Last year there were 27 million international visitors, almost half coming for religious reasons

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