The volume of investment in Saudi tourism and travel market this year is estimated at SR170 billion, of which SR70 billion was generated from domestic tourism.
The tourism sector in the Kingdom has high expectations for a big boost in the market next year, after the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA) approved provisions to issue tourism visas and regulate the system, in order to revive local tourism. If the proposals are finally approved, the SCTA would issue visas in coordination with the Ministries of Interior and Foreign Affairs.
The Kingdom has a tourism market in areas with a strong historical background, like Madain Saleh or Al-Ahsa's ancient castles.Although investors and businessmen in the tourism field are pushing for tourism visa, procedures for its issuance will be clarified by the SCTA in the coming weeks.
“Tourism agencies are waiting for the official system to deal with tourism visa. This system will determine the visa's period and fees,” Al-Khallej Travel and Tourism Agency's director, Abdullah Al-Subaie, told Arab News. “The tourism sector in the Kingdom can create real profits and job opportunities,” he added, urging the SCTA not to miss an opportunity to improve the country's economy.
According to experts in the field, the volume of investment in Saudi tourism and travel market this year is estimated at SR170 billion, of which SR70 billion was generated from domestic tourism and SR100 billion from inbound tourism including pilgrims.
Domestic tourism alone has seen a remarkable growth recently, with the volume of spending in the sector, surging from SR59 billion in 2010, to SR103 billion in 2014. However, Saudis also spend billions abroad during holidays. Incoming foreign tourists, including pilgrims, contribute heavily to the growth of commercial business in the Kingdom.
Although it's not clear yet if the tourism visa proposal will be approved, SCTA's new regulations seemed confirmed, and ready to be launched in six months. The new conventions will control the relation between different tourism facilities and the service providers. Once the regulations are applied, all businesses in the field will have to hold a valid SCTA license to certify they have passed the necessary requirements.
The commission stated that violators, whether tourists or Saudi businesses, who violate the new regulations will be fined with up to SR50,000. Sanctions also involve preventing an SCTA member from entering and supervising any hospitality facility or any business involved in tourism.
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