BMI View: BMI expects religious visits to remain among the main drivers for the tourism industry over the medium term. Saudi Arabia is home to Mecca and Medina, two of Islam's holiest cities, and every year millions of Muslims come to Mecca for the hajj, the largest annual pilgrimage in the world.
A total of 1.38mn foreign pilgrims performed the hajj in 2013, down by 21% year-on-year (y-o-y) due to health fears, but this is still a substantial customer base. The authorities' move to create a tourist visa for religious visitors and extend their stays could therefore provide a strong boost to tourism receipts over the medium term. In this context, in November 2013 Saudi Arabia announced a relaxation of visa restrictions for overseas visitors, allowing foreign nationals travelling to the country for pilgrimage to stay for a longer period of 30 days. Under the 'Extended Umrah Tourism Programme', which was launched in December, the Umrah (pilgrimage) visa will be converted into a tourist visa upon expiry. This is a significant step forward in Saudi Arabia's tourism ambitions; the authorities had previously not issued tourist visas to visitors, limiting entry for most nationals outside the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). 65 countries are now eligible for the scheme.
Government expenditure has focused on developing the religious tourism and business travel sectors in particular, and we expect this support to continue over the forecast period to 2018. Media reports have suggested that the Saudi Arabian tourist industry could soon become the country's largest employer, with the number of people working in tourism set to triple from 2011 to 2020, to around 1.8mn. By developing the religious tourism and business travel sectors, the government hopes to create job opportunities for nationals who remain reluctant to move away from the public sector.
It can be argued that Saudi Arabia had been somewhat slow to develop its tourism sector, with limited investment on...
The Saudi Arabia Tourism Report has been researched at source and features Business Monitor International (BMI)'s independent assessment and forecasts for tourist expenditure; government expenditure on tourism; passenger arrivals and departures by mode of transport, reason for travel, origin and destination; and the accommodation market.
BMI's Saudi Arabia Tourism Report provides industry professionals and strategists, corporate analysts, associations, government departments and regulatory bodies with independent forecasts and competitive intelligence on the Saudi tourism industry.
- Benchmark BMI's independent tourism industry forecasts for Saudi Arabia to test other views - a key input for successful budgetary and planning in the Saudi tourism market.
- Target business opportunities and risks in the Saudi tourism sector through our reviews of latest industry trends, regulatory changes and major deals, projects and investments in Saudi Arabia.
- Assess the activities, strategy and market position of your competitors, partners and clients via our Company Profiles (inc. KPIs and latest activity).
BMI Industry View
This contains a synopsis of our forecasts, and any changes, together with an overview of key trends and developments in the tourism industry, and an assessment of the impact of various economic and national factors which might affect the sector. It also covers new transport projects, new hotel developments, and acquisitions.
Industry SWOT Analysis
Analysis of the major Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats within the tourism sector and within the broader political, economic and business environment.
BMI Industry Forecast Scenario
Forecasts to end-2019 for all key indicators, supported by explicit assumptions, plus analysis of key downside risks to the main forecasts:
- Inbound Tourism: Total arrivals (‘000 and growth % y-o-y), arrivals by region (‘000 and growth % y-o-y), arrivals by country (‘000 and growth % y-o-y), top 10 source countries for arrivals.
- Outbound Tourism: Total departures (‘000 and growth % y-o-y), departures by regional destination (‘000 and growth % y-o-y), departures by country (‘000 and growth % y-o-y), top 10 destination countries.
- Travel & Receipts: Methods of travel for arrivals (air, ship, rail) (‘000 and growth % y-o-y), international tourism receipts for transport (USDbn and growth % y-o-y), international tourism receipts for travel items (USDbn and growth % y-o-y).
- Hotels: Hotel industry value (USDbn and growth % y-o-y), number of hotels (‘000 and growth % y-o-y), total overnight stays (‘000 and growth % y-o-y), length of stay, occupancy rate (%), number of total
BMI’s Tourism Risk Reward Index
BMI’s Risk Reward Indices provide investors (tour operators, tourism infrastructure investors, financial institutions) looking for opportunities in the region with a clear country-comparative assessment of a market’s risks and potential rewards.
Each of the country markets are scored using a sophisticated model that includes more than 40 industry, economic and demographic data points to provide an indices of highest to lowest appeal to investors, with each position explained.
This contains a comprehensive overview of the tourism industry in the country, its overall value, the value of its hotels industry, trends in the hotels industry and any new developments. It also contains an evaluation of the top 10 global hotel groups’ presence in the country, which brands are present in which cities, the number of hotels and any planned developments and strategies. The Market Overview also considers the tourism infrastructure developments in the country, in particular transport infrastructure projects such as ports and airports. Tables are also included from our regularly updated Key Projects Database, which contain details of projects, their value, the time frame, their current status, the companies involved and their estimated completion dates.
This section provides insight into key domestic players in the hotel industry, discussing, for example, the number of hotels, brands, financial data, geographical spread, recent developments and strategies of individual companies.
The Tourism Reports draw on an extensive network of primary sources, such as multilateral organisations, government departments, industry associations, chambers and company reports.
*Company profiles are not available for every country. Those reprts instead contain information on the current activities of prominent companies operating in the market.