Saudi Arabia’s USD 25 billion ‘White Oil’ market is the key to economic diversification, say tourism experts at ATM

Saudi Arabia’s USD 25 billion ‘White Oil’ market is the key to economic diversification, say tourism experts at ATM
  • Tourism related sectors expected to generate 3.3 per cent of KSA GDP in 2019
  • Hospitality, leisure and entertainment will play a major role in realising Saudi Vision 2030, according to panellists at Arabian Travel Market 2019
  • Total number of Saudi Arabia’s domestic and inbound trips projected to rise to 93.8 million by 2023

 

Tourism will play a major role in reducing Saudi Arabia’s dependence on oil revenues, according to experts speaking at Arabian Travel Market (ATM) 2019.

 

In a panel discussion titled ‘Why Tourism is Saudi’s New ‘White Oil’’, which took place on ATM 2019’s Global Stage, representatives from Saudia Private Aviation (SPA), Dur Hospitality, Colliers International MENA, Marriott International, Jabal Omar Development Company and Saudi General Investment Authority discussed opportunities related to upcoming tourist-focused developments and visa reforms.

 

Kingdom-based industries in direct contact with tourists are expected to generate more than USD 25 billion this year – approximately 3.3 per cent of Saudi Arabia’s GDP – according to figures released by the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC).

 

Reema Al Mokhtar, Head of Destination Marketing, Jabal Omar Development Company, said: “Our country has beautiful geographic diversity and a host of cultural attractions so, once visitors come into the kingdom and see the different projects lined up for them, I think it will market itself.”

 

Saudi Arabia’s domestic tourist trips are projected to rise by 8 per cent in 2019, while inbound visits from international markets are expected to grow by 5.6 per cent per year, according to research conducted by Colliers on behalf of ATM 2019.

 

With the creation of new local attractions thanks to the Quality of Life Vision Realization Program and the General Entertainment Authority (GEA), Saudi Arabia’s overall number of tourist trips is on course to hit 93.8 million by 2023, up from 64.7 million in 2018.

Commenting on Saudi residents’ historic tendency to travel out of the country for entertainment and leisure, John Davis, CEO, Colliers International MENA, said: “I think some airlines could probably double their number of [weekend] flights and still fill the seats. So, when the country opens [new local attractions], people will utilise them.”

 

By helping Saudi Arabia to further boost its domestic and inbound tourist numbers, panellists agreed that ‘giga’ developments will prove crucial in helping to meet the economic diversification targets set out in Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030.

 

Alex Kyriakidis, President and Managing Director Marriott ME&A, Marriott International, said: “The challenge to date has been a lack of opportunities for domestic tourists. However, if you look at developments like The Red Sea Project and Qiddiya, which are completely reinventing destinations that will appeal to Saudi residents, you will find everything from hospitality and wellness to entertainment and sports. For many segments of the local population, these projects will stimulate spending in the country.”

 

Despite the more than 9,000 keys of three- to five-star international supply due to enter the market this year, the panel agreed that the kingdom is well placed to sustain and even increase occupancy levels over the coming years thanks to a combination of giga-projects, high-profile events, entertainment and religious tourism.

 

Dr Badr Al Badr, CEO, Dur Hospitality, said: “We’ve been in the hospitality sector for 42 years and we’ve never seen anything like this. What’s happening now is earth shattering. The change of mindset in terms of opening up this country for visitors – whether for religious or general tourism – is definitely something to be celebrated.”

 

Visa-related improvements are also expected to drive growth in Saudi Arabia’s tourism sector. With the roll-out of 30-day Umrah Plus Visas, eVisas for tourists and specialist visas for events such as the Formula E Championship’s E-Prix, the kingdom looks set to attract more international visitors than ever before.

 

Majid M AlGhanim, Director of Tourism, Saudi General Investment Authority, said: “Many of the reforms that are happening right now, such as 100 per cent ownership and easier registration for foreign companies, involve regulation. Hopefully, we will see lots of international investment in Saudi destinations very soon.”

 

Running until Wednesday, 1 May, ATM 2019 will see more than 2,500 exhibitors showcase their products and services at Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC). Viewed by industry professionals as a barometer for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) tourism sector, last year’s edition of ATM welcomed 39,000 people, representing the largest exhibition in the history of the show.

 

For full details of the ATM 2019 event programme, visit: https://arabiantravelmarket.wtm.com/en/events/Events-programme.

 

For more information about ATM 2019, visit: https://arabiantravelmarket.wtm.com.

 

-ENDS-

 

About Arabian Travel Market (ATM)

Arabian Travel Market is the leading international travel and tourism event in the Middle East for inbound and outbound tourism professionals. ATM 2018 attracted almost 40,000 industry professionals, with representation from 141 countries over the four days. The 25th edition of ATM showcased over 2,500 exhibiting companies across 12 halls at Dubai World Trade Centre.  Arabian Travel Market 2019 will take place in Dubai from Sunday, 28 April to Wednesday, 1 May, 2019. To find out more, please visit: www.arabiantravelmarket.wtm.com.

 

About Arabian Travel Week

Arabian Travel Week is an umbrella brand comprising four co-located shows including Arabian Travel Market and ILTM Arabia, as well as CONNECT Middle East, India and Africa – a new route development forum launching this year and ATM’s first ever consumer event ATM Holiday Shopper. Providing a renewed focus for the Middle East’s travel and tourism sector – under one roof over the course of one week – the inaugural Arabian Travel Week will take place at Dubai World Trade Centre from Saturday 27 April to Wednesday 1 May, 2019. For more information visit: arabiantravelweek.com.

 

About CONNECT

CONNECT Route Development Forum delivers a total networking experience, bringing together airports, airlines and aviation suppliers in a format that offers formal one-to-one pre-arranged meetings, engaging industry seminars together with social opportunities to cement relationships with existing clients and engage with new ones. Created and organised by The Airport Agency-France, CONNECT is now in its 16th year and set to attract more 650 participants in June 2019 at its flagship event taking place in Cagliari, Sardinia. For more information, visit: www.connect-aviation.com.

 

The inaugural CONNECT Middle East, India and Africa event will be the brand’s first and only networking forum in the Middle East. Ideally located in Dubai to address the booming aviation market of the Middle East, it will bring together the aviation and the tourism industries, which are the backbone and catalyst of economic development. For more information, visit: www.connect-aviation.com/2019-meia/.

 

About ATM Holiday Shopper

ATM Holiday Shopper is the brand-new travel event for consumers offering the very best travel and tourism discounts and deals, plus the chance to learn about a range of emerging and unexplored destinations and activities from destinations around the world.  The inaugural event will take place in Hall 1 of the Dubai World Trade Centre on Saturday, 27 April, 2019 from 12:00 – 20:00. For more information, visit: www.atmholidayshopper.com.

 

About ILTM Arabia

International Luxury Travel Market Arabia is an exclusive event for those looking to attract HNW travellers from the Middle East to their destination. Returning for its third year, ILTM will allow international luxury suppliers and key luxury buyers to connect via one-to-one pre-scheduled appointments and networking opportunities. ILTM will take place on Sunday 28th April and Monday 29th April 2019. For more information, visit: www.iltm.com/arabia/.

 

About Reed Exhibitions

Reed Exhibitions is the world’s leading events business, enhancing the power of face to face through data and digital tools at over 500 events a year, in more than 30 countries, attracting more than seven million participants.

 

About Reed Travel Exhibitions

Reed Travel Exhibitions is the world’s leading travel and tourism events organiser with a growing portfolio of more than 22 international travel and tourism trade events in Europe, the Americas, Asia, the Middle East and Africa. Our events are market leaders in their sectors, whether it is global and regional leisure travel trade events, or specialist events for meetings, incentives, conference, events (MICE) industry, business travel, luxury travel, travel technology as well as golf, spa and ski travel. We have over 35 years’ experience in organising world-leading travel exhibitions.

 

About World Travel Market

World Travel Market (WTM) portfolio comprises six leading B2B events across four continents, generating more than USD 7 billion of industry deals. These events include:

 

WTM London, a must-attend three-day exhibition for the worldwide travel and tourism industry. About 50,000 senior travel industry professionals, government ministers and international media visit ExCeL London every November, generating about GBP 3.4 billion of travel industry contracts. The next edition will take place from 4-6 November, 2019. For more information, visit: http://london.wtm.com/.

 

Travel Forward, a new travel technology event co-located with WTM London and part of the WTM portfolio of events. The inaugural Travel Forward conference, exhibition and buyer programme will take place from 4-6 November, 2019 at ExCeL London, showcasing next-generation technology for travel and hospitality. For more information, visit: http://travelforward.wtm.com/.

 

WTM Latin America, an exhibition that attracts about 9,000 senior executives and generates about USD 374 million of new business. Taking place in Sao Paulo, Brazil, this show attracts a global audience to meet and shape the direction of the travel industry. More than 8,000 unique visitors attend the event to network, negotiate and discover the latest industry news. The next edition will take place in 2020. For more information, visit: http://latinamerica.wtm.com/.

 

WTM Africa, which was launched in 2014 in Cape Town, South Africa. Nearly 5,000 travel industry professionals attend Africa’s leading inbound and outbound travel and tourism market. WTM Africa delivers a proven mix of hosted buyers, media, pre-scheduled appointments, on-site networking, evening functions and invited travel trade visitors. The next event will take place in 2020. For more information, visit: http://africa.wtm.com/.

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