In a recent interview with Fox News, Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) unveiled the nation’s ambitious aspirations for its burgeoning tourism sector. As the Kingdom seeks to diversify its economy beyond oil, tourism has emerged as a pivotal pillar of its Vision 2030 blueprint.
The Crown Prince highlighted that tourism’s contribution to Saudi Arabia’s GDP has impressively surged from 3% to 7%. This growth is mirrored in the country’s ascent in global tourism rankings, now standing as the premier destination in the Middle East and securing a spot in the top ten worldwide.
While the nation’s vast deserts, historical sites and Red Sea coastlines have always held allure, the Crown Prince’s remarks underscore a broader strategy: to position Saudi Arabia as a global cultural hub.
Multiple factors are at play in this ambition, emcompassing everything from increasing the presence of Saudi fashion designers both at home and on the world stage to working on attracting more tourists from emerging markets like China. No longer just seeking shopping sprees or iconic landmarks, they are increasingly drawn to immersive cultural experiences.
With China’s middle class expanding and its citizens becoming more adventurous travelers, could Saudi Arabia’s rich heritage and renewed focus on cultural tourism make it the next sought after destination for the Chinese? And, more importantly, could this growing interest amonst Chinese cultural enthusiasts be the catalyst that propels Saudi Arabia to achieve its lofty tourism goals over the next decade?