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Strong potential seen for tourism in Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia, January 29, 2018

Tourism in Saudi Arabia, along with its allied industries, is expected to be an important source of income in the coming years, according to the BMI Research Center and the World Tourism Organization (WTO).
The World Travel and Tourism Council has pointed out that the Saudi Arabian tourism sector accounted for more than 10.2% of the GDP in 2016, which is above the 9.1% average of Middle Eastern countries. The year 2016 was when Saudi Arabia was only beginning to implement its tourism strategy, which indicates the strong potential the sector has in future.
According to Deutsche Welle, there is a vast scope for tourism in Saudi because tourists would like to get acquainted with the country’s distinctive features, such as the volcanic crater, Al-Wahbah.
Amr Khalifa, who runs private tourist flights, said he has learnt from speaking to people that they are aware of Al-Wahbah. They even know that it’s about four hours’ drive from Western Jeddah.
The Saudi authorities recently built new roads and put up signs guiding people to the tourist site. It is now teeming with visitors after the encouragement given to the tourism sector by Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman. Plans have been translated into immediate actions, making the site easily accessible. Some stores have opened near the site and parks have been built.
The Crown Prince's vision aims at doubling the annual number of visitors to 30 million by 2030, expecting the tourism industry to be among the most important revenue-generating sector in the Kingdom.
Prince Sultan bin Salman Abdulaziz, President, Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage, said last month that electronic visas will soon be issued to tourists beginning from the first quarter of 2018. 'The Kingdom is a great heritage treasure. We are not just oil traders,” he said.
Addressing an Arab and western audience, he added, 'The Kingdom is home to the most sacred Islamic sanctuaries, and we will never abandon our local culture and values.'