Saudi Arabia's tourism sector is booming, with revenue hit $10 billion in early 2023

Saudi Arabia witnesses a remarkable 225% growth in tourism revenues in Q1 2023, aligning with its National Tourism Development Strategy and Vision 2030 goals

A view of a city Riyadh from the top of a building

A view of a city Riyadh from the top of a building ©, Ekrem Osmanoglu

In a significant development for the Middle Eastern travel industry, Saudi Arabia has reported a staggering tourism revenue of US$10 billion in the initial months of 2023. This substantial figure underscores the nation's relentless efforts to bolster its travel and tourism sector, which has been a focal point of its economic diversification strategy.

The data, sourced from the Saudi Central Bank (SAMA), reveals an impressive 225% surge in tourism revenue in the first quarter of 2023 when juxtaposed with the corresponding period in 2022. This translates to a monetary value of approximately SAR37bn ($9.9 billion).


Such a monumental growth trajectory is further highlighted by the influx of nearly 7.8 million tourists during this quarter, marking it as the highest quarterly tourist count the nation has ever witnessed.

To put this into perspective, the tourist numbers during the same timeframe in the pre-pandemic year of 2019 were 64% lower.

Saudi Arabia's commitment to revamping its tourism sector is evident in its strategic alignment with the National Tourism Development Strategy. This strategy is a component of the broader Saudi Vision 2030, which envisions a diversified and robust national economy less dependent on oil revenues.

The fruits of these efforts are already visible. Over the past few years, Saudi Arabia has climbed 16 spots in the international tourism revenue index. By 2022, the nation secured the 11th position, a significant leap from its 27th rank in 2019.

Top - 3 locations worth visiting in Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia, a land of historical depth and modern marvels, offers a plethora of attractions for the discerning traveler. Among its treasures, three stand out as must-visits:


Al-Ula and Madain Salih (Al-Hijr)

Nestled amidst the golden deserts of Al-Ula, Madain Salih is an archaeological wonder. Also known as Al-Hijr, it boasts ancient tombs carved into rose-red cliffs, remnants of the Nabatean kingdom. The site, a UNESCO World Heritage, tells tales of ancient civilizations and their architectural prowess.

Hegra, known to Muslims as Al-Hijr, also known as Madain Salih

Hegra, known to Muslims as Al-Hijr, also known as Madain Salih, is an archaeological site located in the area of Al-'Ula within Medina Province in the Hejaz, Saudi Arabia ©, KHAWAJA UMER FAROOQ

Masjid al-Haram in Mecca

The heart of the Islamic world, Masjid al-Haram houses the Kaaba, the most sacred structure in Islam. Pilgrims from around the globe converge here for Hajj, making it a spiritual epicenter.

Masjid al-Haram in Mecca

Masjid al-Haram, Mecca, Saudi Arabia ©, Ömer F. Arslan

King Fahd's Fountain in Jeddah

Shooting water up to 1,024 feet into the air, King Fahd's Fountain is the world's tallest of its kind. Illuminated at night, it paints a mesmerizing silhouette against the Red Sea backdrop, symbolizing Jeddah's blend of tradition and modernity.

These gems, each unique in its allure, encapsulate Saudi Arabia's rich tapestry of history, faith, and innovation.


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