During his tour of the SCTA’s pavilion at the conference, which was held at the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre, Prince Sultan said that there were approximately 4.9 million Gulf tourists coming to Saudi Arabia in 2012. They constituted 34% of the total visitors to Saudi Arabia on short trips throughout the year.
Prince Sultan also revealed that the planning phase for the USD 373 million Al-Aqeer tourism project is complete, and that the preparatory stages of construction have started.
The Saudi tourism minister asserted that Al-Aqeer will be a favored destination for Gulf tourists.
“We work on promoting tourism and building our national tourism sector,” he said, adding that Saudi Arabia is considered a major tourism market.
Prince Sultan also highlighted that confidence in the Saudi market has attracted some of the biggest names in the global hotel industry, who are currently trying establish themselves in the kingdom. He said that Saudi Arabia’s total hotel investment by 2020 is estimated at SAR 143.928 billion (USD 38.3 billion).
The president of the SCTA pointed out that employment opportunities require the establishment of major sectors in order to find new and appropriate jobs for citizens, and that the tourism sector is capable of creating these career opportunities.
He asserted that there is huge potential for the kingdom’s tourism sector to become one of the top three job-creating sectors in the country.
According to the latest UNWTO World Tourism Barometer, the kingdom saw 14% growth in tourism last year, the fifth-best performer globally, with tourism growing to become the country’s second-largest employer of Saudi nationals.
Also at the event, Hyatt announced that its development plans for major properties in Saudi Arabia are progressing as anticipated, with two new properties expected to open in the next year: Hyatt Regency Riyadh Olaya and Hyatt Regency Mecca.