How Saudi Arabia is preparing to be a tourism powerhouse

Saudi Arabia opened its borders to international leisure tourism just three years ago – until 2019 the only foreign visitors came for religious reasons. This was the starting signal for his commitment to the tourism industry as a strategy to diversify the country’s economy, based on oil exports. It has been proposed to reach 100 million passengers in 2030, an ambitious commitment in a short period of time that has already put the machinery to work.

The project Saudi Vision 2030, aimed at diversifying the economy, has placed tourism in the first level, so that its contribution to GDP rises from 3% to 10%. To achieve this, it has designed a detailed strategy. After allowing the arrival of international visitors in 2019 for the first time in the country’s history, the next step was the creation of a Ministry of Tourism in February 2020.

Two years later, this very week, the Saudi Council of Ministers has approved a new tourism law that seeks to attract innovation and facilitate entrepreneurship, as well as increase government control over the quality of its services and promote the public-private collaboration to mitigate risks, according to Efe, which cites the official Saudi news agency SPA.

The Ministry of Tourism may apply exceptions and tax and customs rebates that encourage investment in the sector

The first group of Saudi students arrived at Les Roches Global Hospitality Education, in Marbella, in July. Les Roches is part of Sommet Education, a global network of prestigious institutions that also includes the Swiss-based hotel school Glion Institute of Higher Education and the École Ducasse culinary arts and pastry school.

The bet on talent is another of the axes of the National Tourism Strategy in its goal of becoming a tourist power. In this context, the program Tourism Trailblazers which aims to train 100,000 Saudis by 2022. It invests in their training at centers around the world, including Spainwhere some of those students have arrived this summer.

The campaign began at the end of 2020 with the launch of a new human capital development strategy, which aims to attract more Saudi citizens to this activity. The Vision 2030 project includes the creation of one million new jobs in the sector up to that date.

“Create one skilled labor with the talent and ambition necessary to support and drive the tourism sector regionally and globally is essential to realize the Saudi Vision 2030, a unique and transformative economic and social reform project that is opening Saudi Arabia to the world”, he indicated. Ahmed Al Khateeb, Minister of Tourism of Saudi Arabia.

Big projects

The strategy includes the development of large tourist infrastructures. Gloria Guevara, chief special adviser for the Ministry of Tourism of this country, in an interview with HOSTELTUR, explained that “between now and 2030 the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is going to invest a trillion dollars [un billón de euros], which will be used for different types of investment. There are gigaprojects.”

Among them, the futuristic city of Neom, a complex in the Red Sea or a luxury tourism project on a mountain (more information in This will be the super-luxury hotel inside a mountain in the desert).

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How Saudi Arabia is preparing to be a tourism powerhouse