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Saudi tourism market valued at 45.3 billion dollars, popular among GCC visitors TOURISM

(Jeddah-NewsHalal, Jumada al-ula 3, 1437, February 12, 2016) Tourists or visitors from GCC countries to Saudi Arabia increased by 25% as the Kingdom remains popular destination for the region`s travellers.

According to a newly published report by Arabian Travel Market, around 7.4 million visitors entering the Kingdom in the first six months of 2015, which represented an increase of 25% against the same period in 2014, according to official data from the Saudi Commission for Tourism & National Heritage - a fact that will underpin the Kingdom's presence at this year's Arabian Travel Market.

A total of 2.1 million visitors were 'day visitors' with the remaining 5.2 million spending nearly SR11.8 billion and accounting for 30.5 million room nights. In 2014, 6.6 million Gulf tourists visited Saudi Arabia, spending SR22 billion, the report said.

Bahraini and Kuwaiti visitors accounted for a large percentage of total inbound GCC visitor numbers, with 33% each, followed by Qatar and the UAE.

Saudi exhibitors at Arabian Travel Market 2106 will also highlight the future of tourism in the country, which has some $11.6 billion worth of tourism projects currently underway.

Nadege Noblet-Segers, Exhibition Manager, Arabian Travel Market was quoted as saying that "A recent report by the Saudi Eastern Province Chamber of Commerce and Industry stated that tourism contributed 2.7% of the country's GDP, with 2014 tourism receipts totaling around $45.3 billion. While the bulk of this comes from Haj and Umrah travel, which accounted for almost $27 billion, this clearly demonstrates the strong domestic travel market within the Kingdom, as well as the growing business travel segment".

"Hajj and Umrah travel is also an opportunity for additional revenue generation, with the authorities reportedly keen to encourage visitors to extend their stay and discover all that Saudi Arabia has to offer from a leisure perspective. And with forecasted visitor numbers to the holy sites of Makkah and Madinah set to rise from 12 million to 17 million visitors per annum by 2025, there is plenty of opportunity for the country's tourism sector to benefit," she added.

Arabian Travel Market 2016 will build on the success of the previous edition with the announcement of an additional hall as RTE looks to add to its record-breaking achievements. ATM 2015 witnessed a year-on-year visitor attendance increase of 15% to over 26,000, with the number of exhibiting companies rising by 5% to 2,873. Business deals worth more than $2.5 billion were signed over the four days.

According to a report, more than 5,300 hotel keys are expected to enter Jeddah’s hospitality market in the next three years.

According to a report released by Colliers International, a leader in real estate services industry, the fourth quarter of 2015 witnessed the opening of three internationally branded serviced apartments, all of which are operated by The Ascott Ltd., namely the Ascott Tahlia (125 keys), the Ascott Sari (52 keys), and the Citadines Al-Salamah (136 keys).

If oil prices continue to decline, it is expected that demand for hospitality accommodation will shift toward establishments with more affordable room rates.
The report also said that Makkah is expected to reach 25,519 branded hotel keys by 2018 despite delays in hotel openings seen in the past. The expected supply is more than double that seen in 2015.