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  • April 2024



    Saudi Arabia has hit a milestone in foreign visitor spending in 2023, according to preliminary data from the Saudi Central Bank. Expenditure by foreign visitors during the year surged to SAR 135 billion, marking the highest level of spending by foreign visitors in the history of the kingdom. The remarkable growth, amounting to 42.8% compared to 2022, underscores a significant uptick in tourism-related economic activity.

    The Ministry of Tourism confirmed that inbound tourist arrivals recorded an increase of 142% to reach a total of 14.6 million visitors in the first half of 2023. Among the purposes of visit, leisure attracted the highest number of tourists as it increased by 347% compared to the first half of 2022. Overall, nearly 52% of visits were for religious purposes, with 23% for visiting friends and relatives, and 20% for leisure.

    The unprecedented surge in spending is emblematic of the growing appeal of Saudi as a tourist destination. Throughout 2023, the kingdom distinguished itself on the global stage, leading the United Nations Tourism List in terms of the growth rate of international tourists compared to 2019. This achievement was underscored by a remarkable 56% increase in tourist arrivals.

    Furthermore, the United Nations Tourism Barometer report released in January 2024 provided further validation of the kingdom's tourism resurgence, indicating a staggering 156% recovery in tourist arrivals in 2023 compared to pre-pandemic levels in 2019.

    The kingdom's accomplishments in the tourism realm have not gone unnoticed, garnering international acclaim from esteemed organisations such as the World Tourism Organization (UN Tourism) and the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC). Both entities lauded Saudi Arabia for its exceptional achievement in hosting over 100 million domestic and international tourists in 2023, acknowledging the tireless efforts and remarkable strides made by the country’s tourism sector.


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