Last updated: 04:00 PM ET, Mon August 15 2016

In a Post-Oil Economy, Saudi Arabia Looks to Religious Tourism

Destination & Tourism | Janeen Christoff | August 15, 2016

In a Post-Oil Economy, Saudi Arabia Looks to Religious Tourism

PHOTO: Mecca, Saudi Arabia (courtesy Wikimedia) 

Saudi Arabia is experiencing an influx of tourism visiting for the Haj pilgrimmage, which begins this week. More than 600,000 pilgrims are expected to arrive in Madinah, says the Ministry of Haj and Umrah. 

According to an article in the Saudi Gazette, this type of tourism is what the kingdom is looking at to boost the economy in a world that is decreasing its dependence on oil. 

Right now, religious tourism makes up 3 percent of the GDP in Saudi Arabia, writes the Gazette, but that is something that will change. 

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Ziyad Bin Mahfouz, CEO, Elaf Group, tells the Gazette: “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.”

And data bears out this plan for growth. There are tens of thousands of hotel rooms being constructed in the country to support a boom in tourism. 

“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,” reports the Gazette. 

Find out more about Saudi Arabia’s plan for tourism here

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