Recent data released by the Tourism Information Research Center for the Saudi Commission for Tourism & National Heritage finds encouraging data for Saudi officials hoping to attract tourism spending from abroad and entice Saudis to spend vacation locally in the Kingdom.
Tourism spending in Saudi Arabia amounted to $9.6 billion during July and August of 2019 compared to $8.8 billion during the same months in 2018, the semi-official Asharq Alawsat reported.
Saudi travelers spent less time abroad during the same period. Saudis spent 78.4 million nights outside the kingdom in July and August, a drop of 4.6 percent compared to 2018. The roughly $4 billion spent by Saudis on travel during July and August abroad was a 4% drop from the amount spent last year.
Saudi Arabia also saw an increase in inbound tourists into the Kingdom. Inbound tourists spent more than 56 million nights in Saudi cities over the past two months, compared to 52.9 million last year – and they spent more, too. Nearly $9.6 billion, compared with $8.8 billion in 2018.
Domestic tourist traffic increased from January to August 2019 to reach 30 million trips, an increase of 3.4 percent over the same period last year, and a total of 156.5 million nights compared to 156.2 million nights, the data revealed.
The Kingdom has already announced major plans to develop tourism destinations that will make Saudi Arabia more attractive for international visitors and help retain Saudis who typically vacation abroad. Among the major tourism projects underway include a transformation of its Red Sea coastline, a new entertainment and sports city outside of Riyadh, a new mega-city in NEOM, and properly developing and preserving heritage sites.
A new visa scheme is coming to Saudi Arabia on September 27th that will benefit over 50 nations and will be a “game changer” initiative for attracting international tourists, a report in the English-language Saudi daily Arab News.