Khobar Water Tower in Saudi Arabia is a popular tourist attraction

27.6m tourists in 2023, 150m by 2030, Realistic?

Imagine a country that welcomed 27.6 million overnight tourists in 2023. The country increased its annual arrival target from 100 to 150 million tourists by 2030. Is it possible?

This country is the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia attracted 27.6 million overnight tourists in 2023 and is on course to welcome an estimated 30 million overnight tourists this year, according to research conducted by Oxford Economics on behalf of ICAEW.

Last year, Saudi Arabia’s government revised its combined domestic and international 2030 visitor target upwards from the previous 100 million to 150 million. Amid sustained investment in its tourism, hospitality and leisure segments, as well as a slew of ambitious gigaprojects, the Kingdom aims to increase the economic contribution of its tourism sector to 10% of national GDP by the end of this decade.

A strong representation from the Kingdom is expected at Arabian Travel Market 2024, which will take place at Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC) from Monday 6 to Thursday 9 May.

Representing almost a 50% increase in KSA exhibitor participation, ATM 2024 will host a selection of high-profile exhibitors from Saudi Arabia, including SAUDIA, flynas, NEOM, Dur Hospitality, AMSA Hospitality and the Royal Commission for AlUla. First-time exhibitors will comprise almost 17% of the total Saudi participation, which includes Cruise Saudi, Tabuk Investment and Tourism Co., Al Badiah Transportation, Sixth Gulf and Fairmont Mekka Clock Tower, among others. KSA will represent a key focus for attendees as policymakers, industry leaders and travel professionals from around the world share insights, forge new relationships and showcase cutting-edge innovations with the potential to drive further growth within this burgeoning tourism market.

Danielle Curtis, Exhibition Director, Arabian Travel Market, said: “We plan to shine a spotlight on this exciting market at ATM 2024 with a dedicated Saudi Village, which will be highlighted on the exhibition floor and will consist of a full showcase of Saudi products. With significant interest in this market, there will be a range of panel discussions that will enable attendees to identify and capitalise on new opportunities in the Kingdom.”

Saudi Arabia’s government recently increased its domestic and international visitor target for 2030 from 100 million to 150 million. Given the country’s current tourism infrastructure and global travel trends, is this revised target achievable?

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