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Saudi Arabia targets tourism growth with investment incentive

 

A senior official has announced an initiative set to enhance Saudi Arabia’s business landscape, project viability, and land accessibility. Known as the “Hospitality Investment Enablers,” this initiative, developed in collaboration with the Ministry of Investment, aims to optimise business operations and fortify project success, according to Ahmed Al-Khateeb, the Minister of Tourism.

The unveiling of this initiative took place during the opening remarks of the “100 Million Welcomes Celebration” in Riyadh, with Al-Khateeb emphasising its importance. He explained, “These strategic enablers are designed to enhance business operations and project viability, facilitating access to government-owned land under favorable terms, streamlining project development processes, and minimising barriers to market entry.”

As part of the streamlined investor journey, Al-Khateeb revealed plans to launch the Tourism Investment One Stop Shop later this year, in collaboration with the Saudi Business Center. This centralised platform aims to provide investors with comprehensive resources for conducting tourism-related business seamlessly.

Highlighting the burgeoning tourism sector, Al-Khateeb noted that the Kingdom hosted a total of 106.2 million tourists in 2023, a remarkable 56% increase compared to 2019 and a 12% rise from 2022. He underscored the economic impact, with tourists spending over SR250 billion (USD 66 billion) in 2023, contributing 4% to the gross domestic product.

Al-Khateeb emphasized the positive impact of tourism on local communities, promoting cultural exchange and showcasing Saudi hospitality. He announced the Saudi Tourism Excellence Award, aimed at recognising local tourism and hospitality professionals for their contributions, fostering innovation, and maintaining high industry standards.

Notably, there was a 390 percent increase in demand for tourism activity licenses in 2023. Al-Khateeb emphasised ongoing achievements in Saudi Arabia’s tourism sector, including giga projects such as NEOM, Red Sea Project, AMAALA, AlUla, and Qiddiya. To support these initiatives, the Tourism Investment Enabler Program was introduced to simplify doing business in the Saudi tourism sector and enhance competitiveness.

Al-Khateeb revealed that tourism license fees were restructured to better suit investors’ needs, resulting in a nearly 22% reduction in annual government fees. He acknowledged the collaborative efforts of government partners, global organisations like UN Tourism and the World Travel and Tourism Council, the private sector, and investors in achieving remarkable success in the tourism sector.

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