According to the forecast from WTTC’s latest Economic Impact Report (EIR), this annual growth, more than six times the 1.8 per cent growth rate of the country’s overall economy, will bolster the economic recovery of the Kingdom. By 2032, the travel and tourism sector’s contribution to GDP could reach nearly SAR 635 billion, representing 17.1 per cent of the total economy.
The forecast also reveals travel and tourism employment could double over the next 10 years, creating more than 1.4 million jobs, to reach almost three million employed within the sector by 2032. The projections for both employment and the sector’s contribution to the Kingdom’s economy surpass the ambitious goals set out by the government’s Vision 2030 strategic framework. By 2023, following two years of heartache, Saudi Arabia’s travel and tourism sector’s contribution to the national economy could surpass pre-pandemic levels when it is projected to rise 2 per cent above 2019 levels to reach nearly SAR 297 billion.
By the end of this year, the sector’s contribution to GDP is expected to grow by 15.2 per cent to nearly SAR 223 billion, amounting to 7.2 per cent of the total economic GDP, while employment in the sector is set to grow by 16.1 per cent to reach more than 1.5 million jobs. According to the global tourism body, the Kingdom, due to host WTTC’s 22nd Global Summit in Riyadh from 28 November to 1 December this year, is witnessing a faster than average recovery following the government’s total commitment to the travel and tourism sector, ensuring it remains at the forefront of the global agenda.
Julia Simpson, WTTC President and CEO, said, “Throughout these difficult times for our sector, the Saudi Arabian government has recognised the importance of travel and tourism and has led the world in its recovery. Through his leadership, travel and tourism will become a driving force of the economy and will surpass the goals set out for Vision 2030. I would like to commend Ahmed Al Khateeb, who has shown strong leadership during this crisis, which has boosted the sector’s growth with unprecedented investments and new approaches to tourism. I am delighted KSA is hosting our 22nd Global Summit, where we will be able to continue our efforts to showcase the importance of the sector and look ahead to the future of travel.”
Before the pandemic, Saudi Arabia’s travel and tourism total contribution to GDP was 9.7 per cent (SAR 291.6 billion) in 2019, falling to just 6.6 per cent (SAR 190.6 billion) in 2020, representing a staggering 34.6 per cent loss. The sector also supported nearly 1.6 million jobs before an almost complete halt to international travel, which resulted in a loss of 350,000 (22.2 per cent), to reach just over 1.2 million in 2020.