Improvements in Tourism in Saudi ArabiaIn recent years, the Saudi Arabian government has made tourism a priority because of Vision 2030. Vision 2030 is a strategy created by the Saudi Arabian government to improve the country in several different areas, tourism being one of them. Increased tourism has expanded the economy and is also improving the lives of the citizens. With tourism comes more forms of entertainment that benefit Saudi Arabians and attracts visitors from other countries.

How has tourism helped the economy?

The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) states that in 2019, travel and tourism comprised 9.8% of Saudi Arabia’s GDP. Then, the COVID-19 pandemic hit the tourism industry hard. In 2020, that percentage went down to 7.1%. Even with the decrease in tourism because of the pandemic, tourism in Saudi Arabia is still performing relatively well. For instance, the tourism industry provided 12.2% of employment in Saudi Arabia as of 2019; that figure went down to 11% in 2020.

How has entertainment improved in Saudi Arabia?

Additionally, one of Vision 2030’s goals is to create more entertainment for Saudi people. Entertainment and tourism go hand in hand. One of the biggest developments is that Saudi Arabia had a cinema open recently. A cinema opening in Saudi Arabia is notable. For the last several decades, there have been no cinemas in the country. Now, more than 30 new ones have opened.

More so, there has been an increase in entertainment venues in general. From 154 in 2017 to 277 in 2020, these venues vary from cinemas to amusement parks. The Saudi Arabia government is determined to have a successful entertainment market. By 2030, estimates say the entertainment sector will be worth $1170.72 million. As of 2020, the market is worth $23.77 million. Tourism in Saudi Arabia will benefit from these changes because visitors will now have more options for entertainment when they visit.

What is the Saudi Arabian government doing to meet these goals?

Vision 2030 is where the improvements for entertainment stem from. One of the categories for Vision 2030 is a “vibrant society,” which connects to improving the daily lives of Saudis while preserving cultural values. The Saudi government has implemented the General Authority for Entertainment (GAE), which directly supports the funding to improve the entertainment sector. A tourism e-visa that costs $173 is also available, opening the legal pathway for people to enter the country.

What is next for tourism in Saudi Arabia?

The pandemic has slowed down progress for tourism and entertainment to flourish in Saudi Arabia, seeing as unnecessary visits into the country have halted. The revenue from the entertainment sector is suffering, as is employment for people who work in the industry. However, Saudi Arabia has a solid infrastructure now to uphold its entertainment industry; it is a priority for the nation. Saudi Arabia is determined to reach its goals for Vision 2030 and get back on track for when the pandemic is finally over.

– Shelby Tomassini
Photo: Flickr