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UN Tourism praises Saudi Arabia for receiving over 100m tourists in 2023

February 28, 2024 at 4:28 pm

Tourists in outdoor seating at the Harrat Viewpoint in AlUla, Saudi Arabia, on 22 January, 2023 [Jeremy Suyker/Bloomberg via Getty Images]

The UN’s World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) have lauded Saudi Arabia for the “remarkable achievement” of receiving over 100 million tourists in 2023, according to a statement issued today by the Saudi Ministry of Tourism.

In doing so, the Kingdom has met its 2030 target seven years in advance, positioning Saudi Arabia as “an emerging global tourism powerhouse.” Spurred on by this achievement, the country is now looking to welcome 150 million tourists by the 2030 milestone.

The ministry revealed that the total number of tourists, both domestic and international, reached 106.2 million last year. This represents a 56 per cent increase over 2019 and a notable 12 per cent surge over 2022. International tourists numbered 27.4 million, a 56 per cent increase over 2019 and a 65 per cent rise compared to 2022.

“Saudi Arabia’s achievement of welcoming over 100 million tourists in 2023 is a beacon of what is possible through collaboration, innovation, and a clear vision for the future,” said UNWTO in a statement.

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“As Saudi Arabia continues to drive toward its goal of 150 million tourists by 2030, UN Tourism looks forward to supporting its journey, celebrating its successes, and promoting a more resilient, sustainable, and inclusive future for global tourism,” it added.

According to the Saudi Press Agency (SPA), collectively, both international and domestic tourists spent more than 250 billion Saudi riyals ($67 billion), accounting over 4 per cent of the Kingdom’s total GDP and 7 per cent of non-oil GDP.

Saudi Tourism Minister Ahmed Al-Khateeb attributed the significant increase in tourists to the National Tourism Strategy launched five years ago.

“The tourism ecosystem continues to operate in line with the national tourism strategy by developing diverse tourist destinations,” he said.

“Our aim is to enrich the experiences of tourists, diversify options for both local and international visitors, and enhance hospitality facilities along with other services provided.”

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