Research and Markets: Saudi Arabia Travel and Tourism Market 2014 - 2018

DUBLIN--()--Research and Markets ( has announced the addition of the "Travel and Tourism in Saudi Arabia to 2018" report to their offering.

Saudi Arabia has an oil-driven economy, as for several years the country has been dependent on oil and related sectors for economic growth. However, focus has shifted to development of other sectors such as tourism in order to decrease dependence on oil, particularly after the global financial crisis of 2009 when the oil sector declined at a rate of 9.0%. The move will also create employment opportunities in sectors other than oil within the country. Tourism in the country is significantly dependent on religious tourism and has witnessed an increase in the number of pilgrims over the years.

Key Highlights

- The presence of Islam's two holiest cities, Mecca and Medina, is a source of a perennial flow of religious tourists, with millions of Muslims visiting Saudi Arabia annually for the Hajj pilgrimage. According to the Saudi Tourism and Antiquities Committee (SCTA) data, of the 17 million tourists who visited Saudi Arabia in 2013, 6.9 million (40.6%) did so for religious reasons.

- The tourism sector heavily relies on international arrivals; inbound tourism expenditure reached SAR58.5 billion (US$15.6 billion) in 2013, compared to SAR41.6 billion (US$11.1 billion) from domestic travel in the same year. This is despite domestic volume being more than international arrivals, with 19.4 million domestic trips against 13.2 million international arrivals.

- There has been a recorded decline in domestic tourism in Saudi Arabia, despite a rise in mean household income across the country. The major reason behind this decrease has been the increasing preference of outbound travel over domestic travel among Saudi Arabian residents. Furthermore, owing to the lack of entertainment options such as cinemas and restaurants allowing men and women to dine together, the Saudis preferred to travel outbound. Infrastructure development works in and around the holy cities of Mecca and Medina also impacted the flow of domestic tourists.

- Religious tourism is the main incentive of travel to Saudi Arabia. Therefore, countries with large Muslim populations are among the major source countries for Saudi Arabia. The presence of the Islamic holy sites Mecca and Medina fuel this demand, particularly during the annual Hajj pilgrimage. Growth was recorded in inbound tourism to Saudi Arabia during the review period, as the number of international arrivals rose from 10.9 million in 2009 to 13.2 million in 2013, at a CAGR of 5.00%. Inbound tourist expenditure increased at a robust CAGR of 14.62%, from SAR34.0 billion (US$9.0 billion) in 2009 to SAR58.5 billion (US$15.6 billion) in 2013.

- The preference for air as the mode of transport for outbound travelers is expected to increase, with the number of outbound tourists traveling by air increasing from 14.4 million in 2013 to 25.1 million in 2018. The entry of Qatar Airways in 2014 and the launch of new Saudi Gulf Airline in 2015 will increase competition in the airlines market, consequently making air services available to customers at competitive prices and also providing access to a vast network.

- In 2012, the Saudi General Authority for Civil Aviation (GACA) announced that foreign airlines will be allowed to apply for route authority to operate domestic flights. In December 2012, Qatar Airways became the first foreign airline to obtain a license to operate on domestic and international routes based from Saudi Arabia. Qatar's Al Maha airline will start operating by the third quarter of 2014 with a fleet of 10 aircraft, with plans to build a fleet of 50 aircraft in Saudi Arabia. The huge domestic market in Saudi Arabia, which is currently served by Saudi Airlines and budget carrier Flynas, will see an increase in competition after this.

- Saudi Arabia, with its increasing domestic and international tourist volumes driving the growing demand for accommodation, has also seen an increase in investment in the hotel market. Riyadh, Jeddah and Medina are the hubs of hotel investment in the country due to the abundance of business and religious tourists in these cities.

- The demand for car rental services in Saudi Arabia suffers from seasonality, with high demand recorded during the peak seasons such as Hajj and Umrah, Eid, Ramadan and the school summer break. In addition to high bookings, car rental prices also go up during peak seasons.

- The tourism sector in Saudi Arabia is flourishing rapidly. However, the growth in the number of tour operators and travel agents in the country has not been in line with the growth in the number of tourists. According to the SCTA, there were only 160 tour operators in the Saudi market in 2013, which cater mainly to religious tourists.

Companies Mentioned

- Accor KSA

- Al Tala'a International Transportation Co. Limited

- Al Tayyar Travel Group

- Avis Saudi Arabia

- Boudl Hotels & Resorts

- Budget Rent A Car Saudi Arabia

- EgyptAir Saudi Arabia

- Elaf Group, Inc.

- Emirates Airline Saudi Arabia

- Europcar Saudi Arabia

- InterContinental Hotels Saudi Arabia

- Kanoo Travel Saudi Arabia


- Saddik & Mohammed Attar Company

- Saudi Arabian Airlines

- Wyndham Hotel Group Saudi Arabia

- Zahid Travel Group

- Zamil Travel

- flydubai Saudi Arabia

- flynas Company LCC

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Research and Markets
Laura Wood, Senior Manager
U.S. Fax: 646-607-1907
Fax (outside U.S.): +353-1-481-1716
Sector: Travel and Tourism


Research and Markets
Laura Wood, Senior Manager
U.S. Fax: 646-607-1907
Fax (outside U.S.): +353-1-481-1716
Sector: Travel and Tourism