Religious tourism plays key role in bolstering Saudi ‘post oil’ plan
Among the initiatives outlined in the Vision 2030 is to increase the number of hajj and umrah pilgrims to 30 million annually
Saudi Arabia’s new ‘post-oil’ economy plan as outlined in ‘Vision 2030’ which was announced recently, is receiving a huge boost from the tourism sector with the influx of tourists visiting the country for their hajj pilgrimage starting this week. According to the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah, more than 600,000 pilgrims are expected to arrive in Madinah this week before hajj.
Among the initiatives outlined in the Vision 2030 is to increase the number of hajj and umrah pilgrims to 30 million annually. Reports show that the number of people visiting Makkah to perform hajj is increasing year by year, estimating the growth from 12 million in 2012 to almost 17 million by 2025, further strengthening the religious tourism sector’s contribution to the national economy.
At present, the segment concerning tourism for religious purposes contributes up to three percent in the country’s gross domestic product (GDP).
Ziyad Bin Mahfouz, CEO, Elaf Group, said: “The continued growth in religious tourism is a positive development that signals that the Kingdom is on the right track in its national economic plan. Religious tourism will significantly contribute to the country’s shift toward the post oil era. There is a huge room for growth in tourism, not only for religious pilgrimages.”
Industry data shows that Saudi Arabia has the most rooms under construction for hotel development in the region with 35,770 rooms in 81 hotels, with 24,133 rooms being constructed in Makkah alone.
“In line with our commitments to support the tourism sector, especially the segment of tourism for religious purposes and the Kingdom’s national economy, we are providing a wide range of services to facilitate and guarantee a comfortable stay in our hotels in Makkah and Madinah while performing hajj. Our hotels have been equipped with the latest facilities to accommodate hajj performers where they will enjoy both a relaxing and a religious ambience throughout their stay,” Mahfouz further said.
“We continue to innovate with our service offerings for our guests such as extended and all-inclusive packages for all our hotels in Saudi Arabia, so that they can explore other parts of the country before or after their hajj or umrah performance,” he added.
This article was first published by the Saudi Gazette on Aug. 15, 2016.