The Ministry of Tourism in Saudi Arabia: a Global Case Study on Sustainable Tourism

Saudi Arabia's vision for tourism 2030 is one of the most impactful global projects toward socio-economic and sustainable development. By 2030, 10% of Saudi Arabia's GDP will come from tourism, making it a hub for exploration, wellness, and cultural immersion. Projects involved will create 1 million new jobs, 100 million total visitation, 45 million domestic visitation, and 55 million international visitations. The tourism vision is an exemplary case of what every city should aim to become in the upcoming years. The projects and investments have been possible due to the Ministry of Tourism working closely with the Tourism Development Fund, the Saudi Tourism Authority and the Tourism Development Council.

In collaboration with Global Hospitality Institutions, the Ministry is preparing the largest tourism training program for 100,000 young Saudis to be trained at the top 10 global institutions. Recent surveys by the Saudi Arabia´s government have shown that 44% of respondents are looking for technology and smart cities to ease the travel experience, while 34% are looking for sustainable destinations. The program will help its trainees to understand the market and support growth and employment opportunities in the tourism sector.

The global market is asking for a new type of tourism where technology, wellness, and sustainability are interconnected. Saudi Arabia's Digital Tourism Strategy has a core focus on smart cities and experiences. It supports digital travel with extended reality applications (virtual or augmented reality), establishing and engaging a network of tourism investments through digital platforms, and rewarding tourists for their eco-friendly behaviour through online platforms. Technology is at the forefront of Saudi Arabia's tourism vision, and to show the government's gratitude for tourists, the Kingdom's Minister of Tourism has announced the creation of an NFT (non-fungible token) souvenir to take a digital manifesto of their experiences.

According to the World Trade and Tourism Council, Saudi Arabia has been in the top 3 fastest-tourism markets since 2019. Amaala city is being built on the Northwestern coast and will aim to become a zero-carbon footprint city powered by renewable energy and locally sourced food. There will be 2500+ luxury hotel rooms, 700 residential villas, and eco-tourism activities.

Ministries involved in the 2030 vision towards sustainable tourism are the Ministry of Culture, which is leading projects such as the city of Al Ula by transforming the UNESCO world heritage site into a cultural, eco-tourism destination. The Ministry of Municipal, Rural Affairs and Housing also play a key role in creating sufficient housing for visitors. In addition, it regulates projects for individuals and business initiatives.

Saudi Arabia is leading the tourism industry globally, and by listening to the needs of the market and travellers, it is creating experiences for every type of visitor while promoting socio-economic development.

Al Ula City, Saudi Arabia