Saudi Arabia witnesses remarkable growth in tourism events, festivals

Sat, 2017-08-05 03:00

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia is witnessing remarkable growth in tourism events and festivals which, together, attract millions of visitors, help to generate revenue, and create temporary job opportunities for citizens, according to the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH).
Over the course of this summer, the SCTH, in cooperation with tourism development councils and municipal authorities throughout the country, will have staged more than 113 tourism festivals.
Those festivals, the SCTH media department said on Friday, involve “more than 820 activities including cultural, heritage, sports, adventure, environment, entertainment, and shopping events,” adding that those events are expected to attract a total of more than 12.5 million visitors, and to help create more than 91,000 temporary jobs.
A recent SCTH report revealed that — between 2005 to 2016 — 730 festivals were held in the Kingdom, which, in total, attracted more than 85 million visitors, including 28 million tourists.
According to the report, those festivals generated over SR8 billion ($2.133 billion), and helped create more than 86,000 temporary jobs, 70 percent of them for young people.
The hospitality sector has also recorded remarkable growth, according to the report. The total number of hotels in the Kingdom rose from 1,465 in 2014 to 1,582 in 2016. A further 42 hotels are expected to open this year, while 219 hotels are currently under construction.
Since supervision of the accommodation sector shifted to the SCTH in 2009, the number of licensed tourist accommodation facilities has multiplied from 1,402 to 6,527 in 2016, registering a growth rate of just over 365 percent.
As part of its drive to develop the tourism sector and help diversify its economy, the Kingdom this week launched a huge Red Sea tourism project that aims to develop 50 islands and other coastal areas into luxury resorts, set against the backdrop of the ancient ruins at Mada’in Saleh, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

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