Saudi Arabia to open for foreign tourists from May 17

Riyadh: Saudi Arabia’s Deputy Minister of Tourism Princess Haifa Al Saud has said that Saudi Arabia has completed preparations for the reception of foreign tourists from May 17, 2021.

Princess Haifa Al-Saud, deputy minister of tourism for strategy and investment; said that Saudi Arabia is preparing to receive foreign tourists from May 17.

Attending a television program titled “Direct Question,” she said that as many as 93 new companies entered the Kingdoms’ tourism market and the government provided SR120bn as incentives for the sector to counter the effects of coronavirus; noting that the volume of domestic spending on tourism jumped 33 percent over the past summer.

Princess Haifa said that Kingdom’s tourism sector started receiving foreign tourists in 2019. “However, during the coronavirus pandemic, our first task was the safety and security of citizens and expatriates in Saudi Arabia. We were able to provide the vaccine and reached a stage that enabled us to open the land and airports.”

Referring to Saudi Arabia’s targets for the tourism sector, Princess Haifa also said; “In 2018, the contribution of the tourism sector to the gross domestic product (GDP) was 3.2 percent; which is equal to SR147bn of the volume of spending; and in 2019 it amounted to SR169bn, with an increase of 3.5 percent. In 2020, the volume of spending dropped to SR63bn due to coronavirus-related procedures; resulting in a sharp drop in the number of pilgrims.”

According to Princess Haifa, the tourism sector’s contribution to GDP at the global level is 7.9 percent and it ranges between 10 and 12 percent in the countries which also attract the largest number of tourists.

Reaching global rates

Saudi Arabia is also to reach the global rates by 2030, with several major tourism projects are underway and whose results will come out in the near future.

“The volume of foreign investments in the tourism sector is SR30bn; besides a total of 50,000 new hotel rooms will be operational within two years. The first phase of the tourism strategy also targets eight destinations and this will contribute to creating new jobs;” she said adding that the government’s priority is to empower Saudi men and women; who possess many skills to work in tourism,” she said.

Princess Haifa also said the percentage of women working in the tourism sector reached 11 percent.

“The tourism sector seeks to improve the quality of services and to overcome obstacles facing the Saudi investor; as 40 percent of complaints last summer related to prices and quality; and the percentage of complaints dropped to about 10 percent in the winter season,” she added.