Saudi Arabia is looking to build on domestic and religious tourism totalling an estimated $45.3 billion at this year’s Arabian Travel Market (ATM), to be held in Dubai, UAE, in May.
The country’s top 10 projects currently under development are valued at just under $11.6 billion and cover a wide range of tourism-related activities, from $4,400 million investment by Saudi Aramco into 11 stadiums to the next three phases of the Jabal Omar mega development in Makkah, which, upon completion in 2017, will have 40 hotel towers.
Other high profile projects include the $533 million MKEC Visitor complex, the $450 million Hilton Riyadh Hotel & Resort and $500 million Millennium Jeddah.
Saudi Arabia’s presence at this year’s show will be spread across more than 1,400-sq-m of exhibition floorspace with 15 participating companies already confirmed including Unique Choice, Al Khozama Management Company, Rosewood Hotels & Resorts, and E Travel Gate, among others.
“If we look just at the kingdom’s list of top 10 tourism and hospitality projects, almost $11.6 billion is being invested into supporting the country’s economic diversification plans, and our partners on the ground are eager to discuss how this year’s ATM can showcase sector growth to more than 33,000 expected participants,” said Nadege Noblet, exhibition manager of Arabian Travel Market, WTM Portfolio, Reed Travel Exhibitions
Saudi Arabia is capitalising on both new business and leisure tourism opportunities with 55 planned or under-development projects including four museums/libraries, 39 hotels and resorts, one mall, seven sports stadia/leisure complexes, two theme parks and two convention centres.
Following the announcement late last year by the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities of approval of provisions to issue tourism visas and introduce new regulations to the system, this greatly enhances prospects for future sector development if the proposal achieves final approval.
“The country has a number of important historical sites and places of natural beauty that could be a magnet for tourists from around the world, such as the ruins of Madain Saleh, a Unesco World Heritage site, the stunning Farasan Islands, the mountain city of Taif and Jeddah’s restored old quarter,” said Noblet.