domenica 1 aprile 2018
Opening up to Tourism
Regulations for tourist visas completed
On April 1 2018, the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH) has announced that the regulations for tourist visas have been completed and submitted to the Government for final approval. SCTH has worked with its partners to create a structure for developing tourism-related services, raise awareness of local communities and develop the interpersonal skills of frontline tourist service providers. Once the regulations are approved, the issuance of tourist visas is expected to have a major impact on the Kingdom’s nascent tourism industry.
The tourism sector has been earmarked by the government as a key driver for growth in the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 plan to diversify the economy.
Saudi Tourism Industry
In 2017, Saudi Arabia welcomed an estimated 18 million visitors, most of whom came to perform the Hajj and Umrah pilgrimages. Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency figures indicated that tourism expenditure increased to about S.R. 68 Billion. Government estimations expected that the Saudi internal tourism expenditures may reach up to SR 100 Billion by the 2020. Statistics of the Tourist Information and Research Center in Saudi Arabia estimated that the Saudis spending on external tourism exceeded S.R.29 billion, in 2017, paid by more than four million Saudi travelers during the summer vacations. Saudis occupy the first place internationally in term of tourist expenditure.
According to the classification of the World Economic Forum (WEF) of the United Nations International Tourist Organization, Saudi Arabia occupies the first place among (139) countries in the annual data comprehensiveness index for the travel and tourism sector. According to a report issued by the travel and tourism International Board, Saudi Arabia is expected to occupy the 18th place in the world with regard to the national product in economy and tourism. The Public Investment Fund (PIF) is now playing a major role in establishing tourism projects. As mentioned by Prince Sultan Bin Salman, President of the SCTH “For us, tourism isn’t a sector but an industry. We, alongside our partners, have managed to establish and enhance 33 regional and specialized museums in which we employ many Saudi men and women who have graduated from universities abroad and can speak multiple languages.”The efforts of the SCTH and its partners in localizing tourist jobs have reportedly resulted in an increase in the number of direct jobs in the tourism sector from 936,000 in 2016 to 993,000 by the end of 2017. The number of job opportunities is expected to increase to 1.2 million by the year 2020.