Saudi Arabia is expected to see a five per cent growth in domestic tourism during summer this year compared to the same period in 2011, according to statistics from the Kingdom’s Tourism Information and Research Center.
Local tourist trips are estimated to rise marginally from 5.7 million during summer last year to six million this year, and tourist expenses are expected to increase 14 per cent to SAR7.4 billion ($1.9 billion) in 2012, compared to SAR6.5 billion last year, reported the Saudi Press Agency.
Prince Sultan bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, president of Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA) stressed that the Kingdom needed to invest in tourism.
“We are still behind in the national tourism because we have not invested as we should have done (in the past),” he said in a speech at an information conference.
“We have the largest tourism market in the region; but we have lost about seven years during which other countries close to us, have invested and developed their tourism significantly; but today if we speed up in the issuance of incentive regulations, we can turn over the equation in three years,” he added.
Tourism contributed over 7.2 per cent to Saudi Arabia’s GDP in 2011 and employed 670,000 staff last year, according to the SCTA. Spending on local tourism increased 48 per cent last year compared to 2010, it said.
Domestic tourists in the kingdom spent around SAR35,548 million in 2011, an increase of 13.5 per cent compared to 2010.