Thursday 05, January 2017 by Sarah Spendiff

Saudi sees a growth spurt in tourism

Saudi Arabia has recently seen growth spikes in the tourism sector during the Umrah season and the recent celebration of Prophet Muhammad’s (pbuh) birthday according to the Elaf Group, a provider of travel, tourism and hospitality services.

The group reports an increase of occupancy rate in hotel rooms across the country, signifying marked growth in hospitality operations over this period. This complements the Saudi Government’s Vision 2030, which aims to increase the number of Hajj and Umrah pilgrims to 30 million annually. In keeping with this, recent tourism reports have reflected a five per cent rise in Umrah pilgrims, with a predicted growth of 30 per cent over the next three years.

Ziyad Bin Mahfouz, CEO, Elaf Group, said, “We are happy to see the marked growth in tourism in Saudi Arabia during 2016. This spike in visitors showcases the country’s tremendous position as the world’s premiere religious tourism site and we continue to support this by providing the highest quality of services and providing innovative packages that will address the current market needs.”

Reports state that there was a noticeable increase in the number of visitors that arrived in Saudi Arabia, and there was a heavy concentration of people who visited holy and religious sites. Visitors came from all over the world and were of different nationalities, all of whom came specially to immerse themselves in the rich, religious and cultural traditions that the Kingdom has to offer.

Looking to address the expected surge in tourists coming for religious purposes, the country has already started construction for 35,770 rooms in 81 hotels, with 24,133 rooms being constructed in Makkah alone.

Saudi Arabia’s Government has recognised tourism as a key pillar in its efforts to diversify its economy and move away from its dependence on the oil and gas sector. Religious pilgrims currently contribute 2 to 3 per cent of Saudi's GDP.  In a bid to further enhance the sector, infrastructure projects to double the capacity and accommodate the number of both Hajj and Umrah visitors to around 5 million and 15 million respectively, are currently underway.

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