The Saudi tourism and national heritage sector is witnessing unprecedented growth thanks to the support and care of King Salman, said Prince Sultan bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, president of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH).
The king issued a directive to support the sector by passing resolutions and allocating budgets that contribute to its development and make it a major revenue source for the national economy.
Prince Sultan, speaking at a session of the executive council of the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), said the Saudi tourism and national heritage industry has developed notably in the last 16 years.
He said the SCTH has an important role in enabling the industry to compete regionally, contributing to the growth of the national economy, providing job opportunities for citizens and participating in the state’s national development plans.
“This sector… is an important source for the economy and an alternative to oil. It provides many job opportunities,” he added.
Prince Sultan said tourism revenues rose from SR57.3 billion ($15.3 billion) in 2004 to SR166.8 billion at the end of 2016.
The number of licensed tourist facilities increased from 1,402 in 2009 to 6,454 at the end of 2016.
The number of international companies operating hotels rose from eight in 2002 to 25 at the end of 2016.
The number of workers in the sector rose from 333,000 in 2004 to more than 936,000 in 2016
The number of job opportunities is expected to increase to 1.2 million by 2020.
The UNWTO secretary-general said he valued the efforts of Prince Sultan, and the organization will honor him at its General Assembly in China in September.