Saudi Minister Focuses on Tourism and Aviation to Grow Economy

saudi - image courtesy of ekrem from Pixabay
image courtesy of ekrem from Pixabay
Written by Linda Hohnholz

At the Future Aviation Forum, HE Ahmed Al-Khateeb, Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Tourism, highlighted in a keynote speech the country’s remarkable growth as an emerging global tourism and aviation hub.

With aviation stakeholders from around the world joining the event, the Minister emphasized the critical role of air connectivity in advancing tourism and aviation. In the last 2 years the Kingdom launched 28 new air routes, with 2023 seeing over 27 million international visitors.

His Excellency Ahmed Al-Khateeb stressed the importance of collaboration between stakeholders from the tourism and aviation sectors to drive economic growth and create seamless travel experiences. Speaking at the Future Aviation Forum in Riyadh, the minister highlighted the Kingdom’s efforts to leverage new air connections to boost inbound tourism and accelerate sector growth.

“Ensuring the strategic expansion and sustainability of air routes is critical for our tourism goals,” said Minister Al-Khateeb during his keynote speech titled “Sky High Tourism – Unlocking Destinations and Cultural Exchange Now and in the Future.”

In the past two years, Saudi Arabia’s air connectivity network expanded greatly, with Saudi airports adding 28 new routes from international destinations. In the first four months of 2024 alone, airlines from key markets in Europe and East Asia have initiated direct flights to the Kingdom. These airlines include China Eastern Airlines, China Southern Airlines, Air China, ITA Airways, and Eurowings. With visitors from 66 countries now benefiting from the Saudi eVisa, the Kingdom’s tourism market has been on an upward trajectory in recent years.

Recognized as the second fastest-growing tourism market globally in 2023, Saudi Arabia welcomed 107 million tourists, with 27.4 million of these being international arrivals. Tourism currently represents 4% of GDP in the Kingdom– with a target of 10% GDP contribution by 2030. Aiming to attract 150 million tourists by that year – of which 70 million will be international arrivals – global airlines and tour operators will play a key role in this development.

Minister Al-Khateeb added, “This growth is a testament to Saudi Arabia’s appeal to international partners as an emerging global tourism and aviation hub. Strengthening our route network requires expanding the international footprint of Saudi carriers and attracting foreign airlines to our airports. As such, we are strategically pursuing new partnerships.”

Through the National Aviation Strategy, Saudi Arabia aims to invest $100 billion in its aviation infrastructure to turn the Kingdom into a major global player, creating many new opportunities for investors and airline partnerships. Alongside upgrading the capacity of its main airports in Riyadh and Jeddah, the Kingdom’s aviation and tourism authorities are facilitating the arrival of several new airlines to Saudi airports.

Established in 2000, Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Tourism is dedicated to fostering the long-term growth of tourism in the Kingdom. Its primary mission is to realize Saudi Arabia’s vision of developing the world’s leading tourism sector. The Ministry is committed to driving accelerated and sustainable growth through forward-thinking policies, strategic investments, and talent development. Guided by data and powered by dynamic delivery, the Ministry remains steadfast in its commitment to preserving the Arabian authenticity of the Kingdom’s rich heritage and culture.

About the author

Linda Hohnholz

Editor in chief for eTurboNews based in the eTN HQ.

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