Digital payments company Visa to launch innovation center in Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia to attract 100 million visitors by 2030 in huge economic boost: Kingdom’s tourism adviser
RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s tourism sector is on track to contribute 10% of the Kingdom’s gross domestic product within a decade, according to Gloria Guevara, chief special adviser to the minister of tourism.
Speaking to Arab News on the sidelines of the Future Investment Initiative forum in Riyadh, Guevara said Saudi Arabia was making the most of its natural “assets”, such as the Red Sea, in a bid to boost the nascent sector.
Guevara, who served as Mexico’s tourism secretary from 2010 to 2012, said his home country took 40 years to develop its tourism industry – but Saudi Arabia can do it in a quarter of that time.
She said that more than a million jobs will be created in the sector by 2030, and added: “We are going to have 100 million visitors by then, and we hope to have 10% of the GDP, which which is very important because one dollar out of 10 will be the contribution for travel and tourism.
“Now the reality is that this country doesn’t need tourism, because we have a lot of other resources, we have oil. But the fact that we capitalize on the assets that we have, as I have said, the culture, the beautiful Red Sea, the mountains, the hospitality, I think it also creates opportunities for locals,” Guevara added.
After working in Mexico, Guevara served as CEO of the World Travel & Tourism Council, an organization that represents more than 200 CEOs from around the world.
“When I was at the WTTC, I had the chance to see the transformation. And what do I mean by that in 2020, Saudi Arabia was the president of the G20, for example, and for the whole first time we were invited, the private sector was invited, to the table of tourism ministerial meetings,” she said.
“Thus, Minister Ahmed Al-Khateeb was able to create this partnership with the private sector. So for us it was crucial, and for me it’s very important for a country to have the vision, the leadership and the resources to be successful,” she added.
Highlighting the Kingdom’s multiple Giga projects, she pointed out that the leadership of Saudi Arabia not only helps the country, but also helps other countries, especially in terms of sustainability.
“What’s happening here helps the whole industry, and that’s why you see some of these projects have a bigger reach. For example, what we do in terms of sustainable development in this country is shared with other countries. We have an initiative here, a global hub, that will help sustainable tourism move to work towards net zero,” the adviser said.
“It’s a multi-country, multi-stakeholder coalition that starts here that will benefit not just Saudi Arabia, but everyone. So you’ll see that a lot of these projects will benefit the whole world. sector, not just in the country, that’s why it’s getting a lot of attention around the world, because the transformation is not just helping the country, but a lot of other countries,” she added.