In a recent development, World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) has recognised the Government of Saudi Arabia’s efforts in adopting tourism as a key sector to help diversify economy away from oil income.
David Scowsill, president and CEO, WTTC, said: “WTTC has been emphasizing the importance of Travel & Tourism as an alternative income stream to oil exporting countries over the last months. Our sector is very resilient and a great economic and social stimulator for a country’s economy. It is important that any country sees this opportunity, but especially for countries where other income streams are contracting, such as oil exporters. Our sector is a sound investment that stimulates economic growth and creates jobs.”
“In order to ensure that increase in tourism investment will lead to expected growth, we encourage the government to adopt visa policies that welcome all travellers for business and leisure purposes. It is important to emphasize private and public sector cooperation as Prince Sultan bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, chairman and president of Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH) highlighted at the WTTC Global Summit last month,” Scowsill added.
The Government of Saudi Arabia has announced a plan to diversify its economy in order to overcome reliance on crude oil exports by 2030. The ‘Saudi Vision 2030’ plan will see the country’s Public Investment Fund increase from US$160 billion to US$2 trillion, of which tourism investment will increase by US$ eight billion to almost US$46 bn in 2020.
The country’s tourism strategy involves expanding Saudi Arabia as a tourist hub, increasing investment in coastal areas, creating new attractions through museums and historical sites, and adoption of a post-Umrah programme. This will allow Umrah pilgrims to convert their visas into tourist visas, in order to discover more of the Kingdom’s rich choice of destinations.