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Saudi Arabia sees a 156% increase in the number of tourists in 2023 compared to pre-pandemic levels

Saudi Arabia achieved a 156 percent increase in the number of tourists arriving during 2023 compared to 2019, according to the UN’s World Tourism Barometer report issued on Friday.

The great success achieved by the Kingdom in the sector contributed to the Middle East leading the global recovery of tourism, in relative terms, as it was the only region to have achieved growth beyond pre-pandemic levels, attracting 122 percent more tourists in 2023 than in 2019.

The UN World Tourism Organization said: “According to the first UNWTO World Tourism Barometer of the year, international tourism ended 2023 at 88 percent of pre-pandemic levels, with an estimated 1.3 billion international arrivals.

“International tourism receipts reached $1.4 trillion in 2023 according to preliminary estimates, about 93 percent of the $1.5 trillion earned by destinations in 2019.

“Preliminary estimates on the economic contribution of tourism, measured in tourism direct gross domestic product, point to $3.3 trillion in 2023, or 3 percent of global GDP. This indicates a recovery of pre-pandemic TDGDP driven by strong domestic and international tourism.”

The barometer forecasts that international tourism is expected to recover to pre-pandemic levels during this year “with initial estimates pointing to 2 percent growth above 2019 levels,” and “remains subject to the pace of recovery in Asia and to the evolution of existing economic and geopolitical downside risks.”

Reports issued by the WTO confirm a significant contribution of the Kingdom’s tourism sector to global tourism growth, as Saudi Arabia topped the G20 countries in the rate of increase in the number of arriving tourists in 2023, and ranked second among the fastest-growing tourist destinations in the world in the first three quarters of last year.

 Various tourist destinations in the Kingdom witnessed a surge in the number of visitors in 2023 and the country achieved a new record in spending by visitors coming from abroad, according to data issued by the Saudi Central Bank earlier this month which revealed that tourism revenues surpassed SR100 billion ($26.66 billion) for the first three quarters of 2023.

 Outbound travelers from the Kingdom spent SR64.8 billion in the January to September period, creating a balance of payments surplus for the travel sector 72 percent higher than it was for the same period in 2022.



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