International tourist arrivals to Saudi Arabia increased by 156% in 2023

According to the World Tourism Organization’s (UNWTO) Barometer report, Saudi Arabia has achieved a noteworthy milestone in its tourism sector, posting a startling 156% rise in international arrivals in 2023 compared to 2019.

The impressive expansion not only indicates a strong rebound from the pandemic’s effects but also positions the Kingdom as a major driving force behind the Middle East’s tourism industry’s comeback, which grew by 22% overall in 2023.

Even though the world’s tourist industry shrank by 12% from its pre-pandemic levels, in 2023 there were roughly 1.3 billion foreign visitors. Revenues from international travel approached $1.3 trillion, or 93% of what they were in 2019. The industry directly contributed $3.3 trillion, or around 3%, to the world economy.

By 2024, the UNWTO predicts that tourism will have fully recovered worldwide, with a 2 percent increase over 2019 numbers. In the first three quarters of 2023, Saudi Arabia’s tourism industry stood out significantly, dominating the G20 in growth and ranking as the second fastest-growing tourist destination internationally.

The Saudi Central Bank reports that over SR100 billion was spent by foreign visitors, indicating a rise in visitor spending in the Kingdom.

By the third quarter of 2023, the travel balance of payments showed a 72% increase from 2022, indicating a surplus of 37.8 billion Saudi riyals. These accomplishments highlight Saudi Arabia’s rise to prominence as a tourism destination worldwide, fueled by travelers’ growing trust in the country’s array of attractions.

The Ministry of Tourism plans to continue on its current increasing trajectory through 2024. The Kingdom intends to hold important events like the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, the Diriyah E-Prix, and cultural festivals in addition to showcasing locations like AlUla, Diriyah, Yanbu, and Abha.

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